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Temptation Stays Sweet in `Love So Divine'

2004/08/05 | 413 views | Permalink | Source

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By Joon Soh
Staff Reporter

Given Korean melodramas' penchant for forbidden loves, the romantic comedy "Sinbu Suop (Love So Divine)" may have struck upon the perfect setup. For what could be more deliciously forbidden than a love story about a woman and a catholic priest?

To be exact, it's a priest-to-be and he's played by the heartthrob Gwon Sang-woo, an actor known as much for his chiseled abs and good looks as for his acting ability. His romantic counterpart is Ha Ji-won, who plays a more fashion-conscious version of Sassy Girl.

But before you get all hot under the clerical collar, the film isn't nearly the blasphemous affair it could have been. Instead, "Love, So Divine" stays true to its 12-and-over rating by being a lot more tasteful than titillating.

With a soft lisp to go with his gentle demeanor, the shy and upstanding seminary student Kyu-sik is cut from the same cloth as Gwon's previous role in last year's "Maljukgori Chanhoksa (Once Upon a Time in High School)". In "Love, So Divine", Gwon is also asked to bring a comic touch, and while he is no Jerry Lewis, he puts in an admirable effort.

Kyu-sik and his more rambunctious peer Son-dal (Kim In-kwon) are sent out from Seoul to finish their studies with a priest at a rural church. There they meet Bong-hui (Ha), the priest's beautiful niece who flew in from the States to surprise her boyfriend _ only to have him break up with her.

"Love, So Divine" takes the standard approach to romantic comedies, with Kyu-sik and Bong-hui taking to each other like oil and water and constantly bickering and getting on the other's nerves. And in a painfully transparent attempt at keeping the plot moving, Kyu-sik is forced to convince Bong-hui to get baptized as a condition for graduating seminary school.

The premise may be obvious, but the film succeeds in part because the outcome of their relationship isn't. Unlike most romantic comedies, in which you know the lovers will end up in each other's arms by the end, it's never clear until the last half hour who Kyu-sik will end up choosing _ God or the girl.

"Love" keeps sexuality pretty much under wraps, which is how most romantic comedies are anyway. The closest thing to sacrilege here is Son-dal's humorous comparison between convincing someone to get baptized and asking a girl out. Though some viewers might find the whole thing tasteful to the point of being bland, most should still enjoy this light and entertaining film.

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