In Korean with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director: Jang Yoo-jung
Cast: Lim Soo-jung, Gong Yoo, Chun Ho-jin, Jeong Su-kyung
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: Encore Films & GV
Opening Day: 24 February 2011
Synopsis: Ki-jun starts an agency that helps people locate their long lost first loves and Ji-woo becomes his first client. She is dragged there by her worried father who learns that Ji-woo is still hung up on Kim Jong-wook, a man she fell in love with on her trip to India in her early twenties. But she’s reluctant to go looking for her first love after all these years--the mere thought of it even scares her to bits.
But Ji-woo’s “extremely uncooperative attitude” doesn’t stop Ki-jun from bringing in all his resources in order to find Kim Jong-wook. Ki-jun is determined to successfully accomplish the first assignment for his detective agency. In order to identify the face of Ji-woo’s long lost first love, the two travel all around the country and come face-to-face with a smorgasbord of Kim Jong-wooks.
After days on end of little success in the search for Kim Jong-wook, the agency receives a single phone call of fate. Kim Jong-wook himself, inquired at Ki-jun’s agency, in the hope of finding Ji-woo! Ki-jun tells Ji-woo the good news, but realized he has feelings for her.
If you are one of the early adopters of the Korean wave, you will probably find this lead actor immensely familiar. You’re right, he’s Gong Yoo (as Ki-jun). He was the leading actor in one of the popular drama series in Singapore, Coffee Prince. However this time, his role in this movie is not as demanding as his role in the drama. The focus is on his comedic side. Well, this movie is after all a rom-com. Co-actress Im Soo-Jung (as Ji-woo), though less heard of, is equally dazzling. She has pulled off a good performance of a woman who finds her first love hard to forget and showed a good balance of emotion display. Also, her role in this movie also exemplifies her versatility.
This movie was adapted from a Korean musical play which has been running since 2006. Hence, it is easy to pick parts of the movie that actually work better on the stage than on the big screen. That being said, the cinematography of the movie still deserves some credit. The colourful and vibrant culture in India was very beautifully captured, from the opening scene to the flashbacks. Although the recall was exciting to watch, it was a pity that there was a lack of heart-tugging emotions. When we talk about first love, isn’t there a tinge of pain in our hearts? Then again, these scenes are fitting and characterize her encounter with her first love, colourful and jovial.
Having love as the main theme of the movie, there are also some sub themes that were in the movie. These sub themes are not particularly helpful in helping one to understand the narrative. It even seems that it has such a mix of themes, in desperate hopes that people will identify with at least part of it. The narrative became a little confusing in past mid-way of the movie because many things were left unexplained. The significance of the events were also not emphasized, hence the confusion.
However, the saving grace of the movie is the comedic elements. One can expect a pretty good laugh in the cinema. It has picked up a little on the pop culture and people’s fascination over the Korean wave. These elements, combined with pretty witty dialogues, have brought about some good entertainment. As of the purpose of all movie-goers, going to a movie is a time to be transported momentarily to another time and space, and also get entertained. Therefore in this respect, it is pretty enticing to watch.
As meaningful as it is towards the ending, it serves as a careful reminder to all: to live in the present and not in the shadows of the past; whether it is towards love, life or even achievements. What is important is not what we used to have, but what we have now!
(Wait no longer… carpe diem!)
Review by Tho Shu Ling