"My Love" attempts to mimic the famous romantic comedy formula set by "Love Actually" (2003), and the effort itself deserves some attention because the Christmas holiday season is just around the corner, and young Korean couples are keen to watch sweet, feel-good films with the snow falling.
"My Love" has some common grounds with "Love Actually". Obviously, as the title suggests, its target audiences as well as screening time are already set at around the year-end. Both films present multiple couples. But that's the end of the tenuous similarities, and everything else in "My Love" is dramatically inferior to those featured in "Love Actually".
In fact, Lee Han
, who has directed "My Love", has some credentials when it comes to romantic comedy in the domestic film market. He previously made romantic features such as "Lovers' Concerto" (2002) and "Almost Love
" (2006). But Lee is not Richard Curtis, a master of romantic comedy who made "Love Actually" and wrote "Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Notting Hill" and "Bridget Jones's Diary".
Another sad fact for those who want to compare the two films is that Kam Woo-sung
, a veteran actor and one of the main characters in "My Love", is not Hugh Grant, either.
"My Love" makes some nominal efforts to connect the couples, but the effect is minimal at best.
The only virtue is that director Lee has not included the dozen or so love stories in his new feature a la "Love Actually". Instead, he focuses on just four couples (or three and a half couples, to be exact), but then again, the number of couples does not matter much if the stories are poorly presented. The movie starts off with the grim face of Kam who plays Se-jin, who remembers his girlfriend Ju-won (played by Choi Kang-hee
). Se-jin is a subway worker who drives the underground train on Line No. 2 along the Han River.
The couple forged relationships chiefly on the subway, especially inside the terminals on the Line No. 2, with the Han River seen nearby. It turns out that Ju-won is a sort of subway buff, who likes to doodle pictures on the window of the subway train and takes a nap and even have a lunch -- on the dirty floor of the train.
Even before the audiences ponder the meaning of the peculiar subway-based relationships, director Lee swirls the camera into another couple, this time Jeong-seok (Ryu Seung-ryong
) and Su-jeong (Im Jung-eun
). Jeong-seok is a middle-aged widower, and struggles to get over the painful memories related to his late wife. His colleague at the same advertising agency, Su-jeong, wants to open up a new relationship with him, but things continue to go awry because he cannot forget the past.
Director Lee moves the camera angle again to a young college couple (or a wannabe couple), Ji-woo (played by Jung Il-woo
, who made his name known through 'High Kick!
' television sitcom series), and So-hyeon (Lee Yeon-hee
). Studying at the same college department, So-hyeon has a crush on Ji-woo, who is also trying to forget his own crushed romance.
With the three couples constantly changing hands on the big screen, director Lee introduces another member, Jin-man (Uhm Tae-woong
), a self-styled 'free hug' activist who has come back to Korea after six years of absence. Jin-man wants to reunite with his girlfriend, who promised to meet him in six years.
The four episodes do not interconnect with each other, and director Lee changes the screen so abruptly so many times it's almost a test of patience to watch the film's ending, expecting that something might happen in a way that pieces together the disparate couples as a reward for enduring the one hundred and eleven minutes of running time.
But there's no reward whatsoever; there are some nominal efforts to connect the four couples, but the effect is minimal at best. Worse, the sugarcoated, cartoonish and shallow depiction of relationships suggest that, actually, there's no real alternative to "Love Actually" for a year-end romantic fare.
By Yang Sung-jin