Well 50 movies. I know it is a hell of a lot more when you count the capsule reviews, but this still feels like a milestone.
In my mind, I had planned this to be a milestone post, with one of the movies I had initially in mind to take this place. But then upon further reflection, I realised that the numbers are not a ranking, merely a way of recording progress.
However, I did think it was appropriate to talk about a genre I have grown to love over the last few months – Korean Romance.
“Almost Love” reteams Kim Ha-Neul and Kwone Sang-woo after their huge domestic hit “My Tutor Friend”. The funny thing is that most people will consider this to be quite inferior, whereas I feel the opposite, as I found “My Tutor Friend” un-engageable.
The story here concerns the two as childhood friends, incredibly close. She wishes to be an actor, but suffers from awful nerves when in public. He wishes to become Jackie Chan, and starts working as a Stunt Man. Of course when they both start dating, the usual story occurs, they fight, and realise how deep their affection is for each other. So far so normal, but then this is a Korean film, so obviously something happens halfway through that changes the entire tone of the movie.
The opening half of the movie is a rather sweet romantic comedy, with some more than decent action set pieces. We follow the growth of their friendship through endearing flashbacks, using child actors, and this works really well. No Korean actress does the “Girl-Next-Door” role as well Ha-Nuel, and I found this to be a performance of strength and
I suspect for Western audiences, the sudden shift into melodrama will be a little too much to take, but for me it worked. It of course helps that the two leads work so well together – you really feel that they really are good friends, they seem so comfortable together (even when perversely having to act uncomfortable).
Of course, this being a Korean movie, it looks wonderful, shot with no small amount of style. It is colourful when it needs to be, and muted when the mood changes. It feels equally at home in the Stunt Man based action scenes as the quiet two character moments.
I also enjoyed the fact that actually when the tragic event happens, we do not spend too long wallowing in the immediate after-effects. Time shifts forward a year, and we get to see how the characters have grown and changed. Of course the obvious end result happens, but for me the journey was both interesting and worthwhile.
I guess what I am trying to say, that although it is not my favourite film, that it totally encapsulates what I have learned to adore over the last year.
And long may it continue.