Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day I Turned Into A Softie

When I read that Hollywood had remade the popular Korean romantic comedy, My Sassy Girl, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Practically everyone around me had, for ages, told me how wonderful My Sassy Girl is. Unfortunately, I was in the phase before I discovered Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho, and was very much in the opinion that Korean films are long-winded and don't know how to end. That still holds true for many Korean films now, but those two aforementioned directors had fuelled new respect in me and more curiosity about Korean films than I had bothered with after seeing the terrible Shiri and before discovering Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and Memories Of Murder.

So, one day I decided to do the unexpected - I slipped the My Sassy Girl DVD into the player.

I couldn't get past the first 20 minutes. It was trying too hard to be funny, the jokes were horribly lame, the characters were too stupid to be likeable, and the acting was just forced and theatrical. Then, I can't remember the reason anymore, but I decided to give it a second chance. This time, I endured the painful sequences with a few grimaces. Then I reached the halfway point, and something happened.

It was the moment from the restaurant leading up to the train station sequence, when Ji-hyun finally realises how much Kyun-woo truly loves her. With the emotive theme song kicking in, I admit my hard outer shell completely caved in. It was a very effective scene, well written and conveyed in an unusual manner, with very minimal sentimentality. I was impressed. From that halfway point on, I was hooked. At that point too, unpredictability kicked in, and you weren't too sure how the whole story would be resolved, while it's obvious something was inevitably going to happen to drive the two lovebirds apart. I just had to get to the end.

Then it happened, the new conflict. And then, came the ending with the big bang. From a resolute dissenting voice against the film, I was reduced to a teary-eyed sentimental fool. Totally unbelievable!

My Sassy Girl turned out to be one of those films that first annoys you to hell, then rewards you greatly if you're willing to put up with all its crap. In short, it's as if the film tests your worthiness.

But then again, you do have to be a sentimental fool to begin with, because I've had friends who still pooh-poohed the film even after getting to the end.

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