Major change of pace now, from Thai Ghost Horror to Korean rom-com, albeit with a twist, and a little present for you all. The twist is that it is a short film rather than a feature, the present is that hopefully those of you with 35 minutes to spare can watch it right here (well on YouTube). It will be a shorter review than normal (can’t have writing the review take longer than watching the film), but it’s a wonderful thing and deserves your time more than my amateur prose.
“One Perfect Day” follows the romantic failures of Woon-cheol (Yoon Kye-sang) a man desperate for love, but for whom fate and his nervous desire to succeed fails him. We observe a number of failed dates, strung together by one in particular, where he takes one girl (Park Soo-jin) for a walk through the park, ending up at the Nansan steps. He tries to play a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with her, but it fails hopelessly. Woon-cheol sits on the steps, pondering his lot in life, reminiscing over a failed office infatuation, and the lesson on life imparted to him by his Father at this same location (and giving us a discourse about the real meaning behind the game). He is joined by a little lost dog, who simply won’t leave him alone. Woon-cheol then spots a poster, declaring the dog to be a missing pet, and when he meets the owner (Park Shin-hye) he takes one final stab at attempting romance that evening.
What is going to surprise you here is that the Director is the wonderful Kim Jee-woon returned from his unsuccessful and creatively frustrating stint in Holllywood. Previously he has been mostly concerned with tackling big genre tropes, albeit with his own special dedicated take on them, with so much care and attention it almost hurts to think about the effort he puts into his films. This is (I think) his first foray into rom-com territory, but even in this short form he comes up trumps.
In a mere 35 minutes he manages to eulogise and satirise Korean style romantic melodrama, taking elements we will be familiar with, yet putting his own spin on things. It manages to be hilarious, heart-breaking, frustrating and still leave us with a spark of hope – with nary a kiss or even a definitive completion to the narrative.
It is beautifully shot, making night time Seoul a magical place. He uses smart montages and flashbacks to help quickly develop the story, and at times just lets the script do the work. Yoon makes a great lead, being funny, annoying, frustrating and yet also empathetic. You want him to have a win, as his only real faults are being too enthusiastic and being amazingly nervous in his desire to impress. Park Soo-jin is also great, despite being obviously shallow (though not the worst girl he meets), you really do feel sorry for her being taken on the worst date of her life. But the moral here is – don’t say you like taking long walks if you aren’t prepared or equipped to do so.
The short was actually made to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Korean clothing firm KOLONSPORT (A company that might need to think of a Western rebrand if they ever decide to venture this way), and you can also see the film on their website at http://www.kolonsport.com. Sadly, the other film so far in the series, co-Directed by Park Chan-wook is not english subtitled, but this one is enough for me. Highly Recommended.
And, how about seeing it here? YouTube link below!