Saturday, March 21, 2009

Seasons of love

In pursuit of my Son Yeh Jin fanboyism, I recently picked up the Korean movie April Snow on a trip to First Markham Place...

Maximus: What's the deal with Koreans and the seasons? April Snow, Winter Sonata...

The plot for the movie is described virtually in its entirety on the back cover of the DVD box (a practice that rather irks me...). It goes like this:

April Snow is a story about a man and a woman who face their spouses' accident and betrayal together and lose the balance on their lives. The man and woman meet for the first time in the empty hallway in front of an operating room.

As the two rush in upon hearing of their spouse's accident, they realize that the man's wife and the woman's husband had an affair together. They also realize that they share the same sadness. The two get lost in despair of confusion and anger but they unexpectedly fall in love and jump into the same "affair" as their spouses did. They hesitate at this new love and feel more heartache and pain.

Indeed, this encompasses more or less the entirely of the movie. But rather than being a film about surprises, April Snow is a movie about mood and emotion. Living in the same hotel in the same city, waiting on their comatose spouses day and night; the two constantly run into one another. As they face jointly the discomfort of their spouses infidelity, they find solace in each other's companionship.

The movie takes itself slowly, painstakingly describing how two strangers, scarred by infidelity, can fall in love with one another. Most of the film refrains from music, playing the odd soft ballad to suit the mood. The emotion is palpable, and seldom feels contrived. It is a movie about the journey, rather than the destination (the destination being made clear from the onset).

The one issue I took with the film was that given its slow pace, it was almost jarring when the two protagonists jumped into bed with one another half way through the film. Considering what to do next on one of their early dates, they somehow end up at a love hotel for intimate relations.

But aside from this one indiscretion, the movie weaves its path artfully... It makes it easy to understand how In-Soo (Bae Yong Jun) and Seo-Young (Son Yeh Jin) arrived where they arrived. They do so in a way that is neither commendable nor condemnable. It just is.

Life as is... that's what April Snow dares present, and for that reason, it soars.

P.S. in keeping with the prototypical Korean male (including Chul Soo from A Moment to Remember), In-Soo spends much of the movie with a cigarette in hand. /sigh


Winter Teddy said...

you see, because of the slow pace, they have to put in the love hotel scene to wake up the audience who is probably asleep already

a_ndy said...

Maybe if the viewer is Kushima... He seems to have a pretty short attention span when it comes to serious movies.