Though Zhuang only shot “Reverie” during a short period in 2019, the story she chose to tell spans childhood and adulthood. Zhuang chose four critical moments in the girls’ lives—childhood play, the beginning of school, the pressures of the digital age, and the confidence of womanhood—and had them act out each part.
In the first chapter, the girls wear white dresses while playing in a domestic setting, bound by whimsy and the carelessness of childhood. For the next part, the protagonists appear on a steam train in school uniforms as they begin to acquire the self-possession of teenagers. Then, Zhuang chose an all-black setting in studio—a space that was “almost consuming them,” she explained—for the girls to face the vanity and isolation of social media. Finally, they return to nature in a series of ethereal, light-drenched images, reconnecting with themselves and one another. As they move through the stages of life, the girls are yoked by a sense of belonging.