Be warned, director Kwon Jong-Gwan isn’t toying with you – this really is a sad movie. You’ll need a load of tissues and chocolate to cope with it. At first you may be lulled into thinking it’s just a charming rom com with some of Korea’s most engaging actors, and that it wouldn’t be feasible for there to be anything but happy endings all round but if you really can’t take sad movies, watch something else.
There are four stories woven into this movie, so it’s kind of like Love Actually except Love Actually doesn’t leave you a blubbering mess on the floor. The stories connect in two pairs – two of the stories involve a firefighter, his girlfriend, and her sister, while the other two are about an unemployed loser and his fed up girlfriend, and a mother and her young son. The weaving together of these stories is very skilful, and adds more poignancy to the touching themes.
The firefighter and his girl
The firefighter is Lee Jin-Woo (Jung Woo Sung, Musa) an endearing, loyal, brave boofhead as dumb as a bag of hammers when it comes to women. His girlfriend Su-Jung is waiting for a proposal of marriage, but Jin-Woo wants it to be perfect, and starts by losing the ring he bought for her. She lives in fear that his bravery will be the death of him, unless he gets married and realises he ought to be more careful.
Among his many heroic acts was saving her sister Su-Eun (the gorgeous Shin Min-Ah from Mawang) from a fire that left her facially scarred. Su-Eun is deaf and mute, and she and her sister communicate through sign language, which Su-Eun is teaching Jin-Woo – not too successfully. He keeps getting things wrong, a failing that the wickedly funny Su-Eun exploits shamelessly.
Su-Eun works as a costume character in a theme park, and is attracted to Sang-Gyu, a young artist who comes regularly to the park (Lee Ki-Woo, Flower Boy Ramyun Shop). He is intrigued by her, trying to visualise what she looks like under the costume head, but she refuses to reveal herself, or admit her disability.
Hiding her feelings behind a mask
Meanwhile Ha-Suk (Cha Tae-Hyun, My Sassy Girl) discovers he is able to kindly deliver break up messages for other people and sets himself up in business on the Internet. He is trying to save his own relationship with Suk-Hyun (Son Tae-Yong, I Am Sam) who is fed up with being poor.
Cha Tae-Hyun wrenching at the heartstrings
This leads to some very funny scenes, as he delivers break up messages, and also a meeting with Hui-Chan (marvellous child actor Yep Jin-Goo), whose mother Ju-Yung is too busy pursuing a career to take much notice of him. Hospitalized by a car accident, she finds out she has cancer, and is trying to rebuild her relationship with Hui-Chan. Ju-Yung is played by Yeom Jong-Ah from A Tale of Two Sisters.
A mother and son growing apart
This story is particularly hard on the emotions, but the other three also pack an emotional punch that will leave you breathless. An underlying theme of the stories is difficulties in communicating, especially communicating your true feelings – life is unpredictable, Kwon Jong-Gwan is saying, stop messing about, make the most of it – if you love someone, say it, hug them, kiss them, laugh with them now, don’t wait, don’t make regrets for yourself when it’s too late.
A sad movie – and a beautiful movie, beautifully acted by its stellar cast of stars.