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Walking a mile in your lover's socks

2004/02/05 | 407 views | Permalink | Source

"Art Museum By The Zoo", (1998) a romantic comedy of opposites attract, takes a few lessons from the Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan hit, "When Harry Met Sally". Both films weave in clips of real couples telling stories of how they met and managed to stay together.

In "Art Museum" a beefy-short woman says she never dreamed of marrying her skinny husband with an annoying regional accent, but after years of hard work, they fell in love. While an elderly couple argues, they're asked if they would marry again in the next life; their answer is "yes".

"Art Museum" explores these unlikely attractions by pairing two people who experience hate at first sight. Soldier Chul-su (Lee Sung-jae) returns to his girlfriend's apartment during his 10-day vacation from military service. But he doesn't know his girlfriend Da-hye (Song Sun-mi) moved out months ago and is about to marry someone else. Instead, living in the apartment is wedding videographer/aspiring screenwriter Chun-hi (Shim Eun-ha). She agrees to let Chul-su stay until he can patch things up with Da-hye. In exchange, he agrees to help type her screenplay she's entering into a contest.

Chul-su's chauvinistic comments and Chun-hi's sloppiness drive each other up the wall.

The two can only find common ground in their frustrations with relationships, which take their own sides in the form of two characters in their screenplay, imagined as a fictional Da-hye and a man based on Chun-hi's real life love interest In-ku (Ahn Sung-kee). But in their script, Da-Hye works at an art museum and In-ku is a veterenarian at the zoo. Their interests in life, as well as their fear to speak to one another, keep them from ever meeting until they finally break the ice when Da-hye gives In-ku a ride home on her bicycle. The characters learn they can't love each other until they walk a mile in each other shoes.

In real life, Chun-hi and Chul-su do the same, but wonder why it doesn't work for them too, as they still lunge for each other's throats. Not until Chul-su leaves can they admit their true feelings for each other.

The movie works because it continuously mocks the romance movie genre while providing some thoughtful insight on crushes and relationships. Their situation is meant to be seen as typical of Korean marriages, many of whom were engaged after only dating a few weeks.

When Chul-su and Chun-hi are paired, each are unsuspecting of the love that will grow and therefore they see the other persons faults first, rather than later.

In a time when Korea's divorce rate is about to reach world record highs, this message hits hard to say relationships looking from the inside-out outlast the Hollywood beginnings.

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