In preparation for the Athens Olympics, Hye-kyeong (played by Kim Jung-eun) does her best to put together a crack handball squad. In practice this just ends up being a bunch of middle-aged women from previous handball teams and some kids who haven't a chance to specialize in a different sport yet. As if this weren't frustrating enough, Hye-kyeong also ends up being forced to participate with Seung-pil (played by Uhm Tae-woong), a former lover who's also a jerk.
Seung-pil was the main problem I initially had with "Forever the Moment". It takes a really long time for him to stop being a paternalistic bully. This part of the story went on for so long I was sure he was going to get fired or something. Without context Seung-pil's emphasis on European style training, technique, and diet seems pretty silly, to the point I was expecting the handball team to win the day by embracing their inner Koreanness somehow.
"Forever the Moment" ultimately ends up conforming to the more standard nationalist sports movie format. Patriotic undertones notwithstanding, the more intriguing element at play in "Forever the Moment" is in fact womanness. The female athletes at the center of the movie are women in a way that's not obtrusive. They have kids. They have personalities. They struggle with being athletes in a fringe sport and how this does not earn them much respect inside the South Korean Olympic Compound.
Contrast this with the bravado shown by Seung-pil. He walks around indoors wearing sunglasses like that makes him cool. That's the kind of attitude a man can afford to have when he's handsome and has lots of employment options. Hye-kyeong does not have that luxury- she has responsibilities. It's a very important distinction between male and female athletes that's quite well-drawn here. For better or worse, the women have to put more thought in to proper life balance.
Bear in mind these are all very subtle touches. I don't want to overemphasize the extent to which "Forever the Moment" is a woman's movie because really, it's just a sports movie that keeps the woman's perspective in mind. None of the gender distinctions are that explicitly drawn, and that's for the better. Admittedly that does lead to one problem- "Forever the Moment" is a sports movie and not really any much more than that. If not for the legendary reputation of the climactic handball match, it's hard to imagine this movie would have gotten made at all.
I have seen that legendary handball match, though, and the myth is well-deserved. It's easy to see why the event replays on Korean cable every so often. The struggle for victory on both sides is intense, and I highly suggest you not look up the outcome in advance. Although admittedly, that's not the point here anyway. The question being posed by "Forever the Moment" is why, against all these obstacles, the women are still determined to everything they can to win. It's a question that's answered very satisfactorily- the experience of that one moment trumps all other considerations.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Forever the Moment" + DVD Giveaway"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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