Saturday, March 05, 2011

My Love (내사랑 )

    I was drawn to this movie partially thanks to solid, very, very good cast, partially thanks to this poster which I find very nice, and partially thanks to my obsession with Kim Namgil-nim. The director's name is Lee Han. No? Still doesn't ring any bell? Well, this marvelous man used the stage name "Lee Han" up until 2008. Ekhem...
At first I was very sceptical to watch it. I thought "Damn, another movie about love, how am I going to go through this?". The answer is one - exeptionally well. I liked everyone in this movie, the characters were sketched, because not even portrayed fully, with finesse and freshness. The music was non-existant in some scenes which I also find nice. Plus, I found the way of directing and shooting also worth noticing.
It's not a perfect movie. There is nothing like a perfect movie. But as I said, I may like a total crap, because of my mood and inclinations, and I may bash a masterpiece because I don't like it. Simple as The Diva's mind. Ekhem...


The movie is about love. True. A topic used, re-used and made into pulp by thousands of directors. Lee Han doesn't tell anything exceptionally new. The message of this movie is comforting, yet bitter in one story - you have to open your eyes to find your love. If you chose to sleep - your love is gone.
Some technical info before I start writing my brains out.

Directed by Lee Han (이한)
Screenplay by Sin Dong-ik (신동익) (adaptation)
Genre: Comedy •Melodrama •Romance
Omnibus movie 
Release date in South Korea : 2007/12/18
Kam Wuseong - Sejin
Choi Kanghee - Juwon
Eom Taewung - Jinman
Jeong Ilwu - Jiwu
Lee Yeonhee - Sohyeon
Ryu Seungyong - Jeongseok
Im Jeong-eun - Sujeong

    The movie tells the story of few people. There is no one protagonist, but few of them. Each and every one of them is portrayed in an impressionist way. We never get to know about their past, except for few flashbacks. We never get to know about their motives, their "behind the story". The whole movie is "here and now". It's like this with every relationship. If you start a new one, slowly, slowly, the past ones start to fade away, and everything you focus on is centered around the present. This is why the loss hurts so much. Because it's happening now, not in the past, not in other people's "now", but our own.

   Sejin is a regular guy who lives in a small apartment and his relationship with one peculiar girl has been going on for about a year. The girl, Juwon gives off the image of an alien or at least mentally backward person. Her personality, although weird is like a sunshine to many around her, even involuntary. She is determined to turn her life into the world of her dreams. She is not afraid to dream colorfully, she is not afraid to do awkward, embarrassing things on the train. She is obsessed with one special train on which they met. It seems also like she's slightly narcoleptic. Or maybe just has low blood sugar level, because she's frequently sleepy.

  Jinman is a guy who comes back to Korea after six years. We don't know why he left. All we know is only one fact - he's coming back as he promised to his old girlfriend. He meets Sujeong begging her to give him back his old phone number, because he is waiting for a call from his girlfriend. He also radiates as if all problems just pass him by and not affecting at all. But there is one small crack in his happy face. He sleeps where the night finds him, befriends random dogs and carries on the mission of "Free Hugs". Yes, you read it right. Free hugs. Jinman is an apostle of hugging. At first he meets the reserve and suspicion, but with time he will succeed.
   Sujeong, whom Jinman meets in order to get his number back, is a supervisor in some ad company. She works with Jeongseok. She blew off the blind date Jeongseok set her up by introducing the meaning of her name by saying: "You know it means easy to impregnate?" Sujeong wants to become a woman in Jeongseok's life and mother to his son, who spends his free time playing video games and eating ramyeon. Jeongseok hates her for this, bent on drinking every day.
  And we have Sohyeon who has a crush on her seonbae, Jiwu. Jiwu is known among the friends as the guy who took a year off from studies to forget about the girl. Sohyeon asks him to teach her how to drink, and poor girl at first is knocked down by just one shot.

   And that's all. The events lead to the solar eclipse. Sujeong and Jeongseok worked on Wish Tree in one park as the main event of the eclipse. People could write their wishes and put them inside glass bulbs that would be lighted on this very day and hanged on the tree. Jinman waits for his girlfriend to call him. Sohyeon and Jiwu slowly get to know each other, and the boy finally realizes who is close to him.

   Solar eclipse is like a metaphore here. For short time it's getting dark as if night has fallen upon the world. No wonder in the yore people feared the eclipse. It was sudden, not explained, fearsome. It was as if powers of primordial darkness seized the world. The world after it seemed new, different. This is a rite. A caesura between what was and what will be. The border moment of eclipse is like waging your life. This is why those few moments of darkness are so important. In darkness there are no colors, this is why when the light is cast, those colors are seen as if invented a  moment ago. 
Moreover, the darkness is fear, especially the sudden darkness. The heart may be put at ease only after it disappears. After it, we may shrug off the fear by saying "It wasn't even a big thing, I have no idea why I was scared so much". We couldn't be brave if we didn't know fear. We couldn't appreciate colors if we lived in constant darkness.

   The pace of this movie is slow. No one is in a hurry, events come one after another without any haste. The chronological order is slightly disturbed by the flashbacks, and in one case (Sejin) it's sometimes hard to tell if what is happening already happened and this is all in the past, or it is happening now as we watch. I have nothing against slow movies. I have nothing against scarcely spoken movies if that all makes sense. It all depends on the movie itself and the general "feel".
I had only problem with the Juwon's accident on the train, it was strange to me that no one helped. I heard the fire alarm, but the door didn't open. And she apparently couldn't also open the windows.
There is not a one element that is useless, or even people they meet on the streets or train. In one short as an eyeblink scene, we even saw Jinman's former girlfriend (now mother and wife) that passed through the screen. Also, the old homeless guy who smokes, pay attention to him.

   The cast did a great job. As I said, those characters are just sketches. I took it as if examples of regular people who meet, pass by and vanish. Perhaps this is why we know them only by their names, not full names.
To make them even more normal and everyday people. Ryu Seungyong, whom I admire, had quiet, yet tense role, and relaxed only in the last minutes by offering "a free hug". His son, even though at first was "hostile neutral" to Sujeong, called no one but her when his father went ballistic with drinking. Im Jeong-eun was great as Sujeong, and not to mention pretty beyond my grasp. Eom Taewung has certain charm that makes his positive roles bursting with radiance. Well, his other roles are frightening a bit as well. He can switch easily between joy and hatred. Kam Wuseong is a solid actor, there is no other need to say anything. The King and The Clown was so-so, but his performance there was amazing. Lee Yeonhee, hmm... I admit the girl has tons of charms, and I even like her. Especially when the camera is not focused on her face but the whole body and she has to act naturally with her all. I liked her behavior here. And there is also Jeong Ilwu who has this special place somewhere, and I will always look out for him. Especially after his heavy stage debut in Beautiful Sunday. He's not the top actor right now, I like him nevertheless.

   You may like this movie if you don't expect neither philosophical bombarding, nor shallow entertainment. It is well balanced between tragedy and happiness. Some people are happy and some just are not.
You may not like this movie if you're mentally "14 years-old 4Eva!", because there is not much of cute moments, the characters talk (omo, what the screenwriter thought?? They talk!), it's not a fangirl material at all. It's a nice, warm movie to watch on March night, with camomile tea and strawberry chocolate.

Oh well, maybe I'm getting old too...

And trailer: