Min-soo (played by Kim Dong-yoon) is a shy gay man who's very self-conscious of the way the world views him. Hyo-jin (played by Ryu Hyun-kyung) is a woman who's worried about appearances more for the sake of social permissions- it's easier to process an adoption as a married couple than as a lesbian even in the context of a long-term relationship. Min-soo and Hyo-jin get married, as it serves both their purposes, and from their the story follows their daily gay life.
In actuality, "Two Weddings and a Funeral" is primarily concerned with Min-soo and Min-soo's friends. There isn't any problem with this, but as the DVD cover prominently displays the two male and female leads I was a little disappointed to find that the lesbians have a relatively small role in the overall story and that not much is done with the subplot of their adopting a young (male) baby.
A lack of in-depth plotting plagues much of this movie. There are a large number of subplots or events that seem like they're going to be significant in the long run, but aren't really followed up. Ironically, the one plot thread that's dealt with consistently (Min-soo's relationship with another man) actually feels a little rushed. They haven't met when the movie starts and their relationship progresses a lot more quickly than seems reasonable- although it's vague how much time passes outside of a single time skip, so it's difficult to tell for sure.
As a whole, single piece of film-making, "Two Weddings and a Funeral" really doesn't work. So what about the individual pieces? On a scene by scene basis there's actually quite a bit of good film-making. Particularly with Min-soo's friends, who all practice in a gay chorus group. Director Kim-Jho Gwang-soo effectively documents the way a group of gay friends hang out. He paints a portrait of people who happen to be gay rather than who are defined by gayness. Individual personalities make up the group dynamic. And while they do make a point of discussing gay issues, it's always in a way very relevant to their day-to-day lives.
This was something else I liked- all the characters live in a society that discriminates against gays, and they know it. They have to deal with a wide gamut of discrimination, and it's imminently understandable why Min-soo and Hyo-jin find themselves resorting to a devious scheme to stay in the closet. At the same time, while the movie is clearly envious of foreign cultures that are gay positive (sadly, outside of large cities the United States is nowhere near as gay-positive as the characters seem to believe), there is a very strong thread of homophobia being a Korean problem that must be solved, one way or another, by Koreans. This is a story about gays in general- not a few specific ones.
While all this is admirable, it still doesn't add up to a coherent whole. "Two Weddings and a Funeral" is an interesting movie with good performances, but it's just a few rewrites short of achieving something great. Still, it's a reasonably funny gay romantic comedy, even if it gets a little dark at times, and I'm sure there are people for which it will hold better appeal than me. Nonetheless, I can't personally recommend it.
Review by William Schwartz
Available on DVD from YESASIA
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] "Two Weddings and a Funeral""
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