Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

From the Land of the Morning Calm we a love story.  Maybe.  I’m not sure.  I am sure that there is a lot of sex going on between our two attractive leads though.  But there is more underneath, but not initially.  Just raw sex. Director Eun-Tae Kim seems to want to examine the divide between love and marriage in his emotionally charged film ‘Lover’ (Aein). 

If I could meet the actors in this movie, I have some serious personal questions to ask them, but I’ll get to that later.  Ye-Ryeong Kim plays the unnamed character of Girl who we meet on an elevator.  Actor Dong-Hyuk Jo, playing the unnamed character of Boy, slips in before it’s closes for the long ride down.  Boy is carrying a box of travel literature to Zanzibar which catches Girls eye.  Boy makes small talk as he is obviously interested in Girl, paying no never mind to the ring on her finger.  Girl is obviously interested in Boy as well, but does her best to send him on his merry way.  Boy is nothing, if not persistent, and through the force of his personality and pearly white teeth, manages to make a little headway with Girl.  From what we can glean, we see that Boy is a bankrupt construction company owner, on his way to Africa the following morning to see the world, and girl is a macramé artist and engaged to be married soon.

After spending a fun filled afternoon with each other, Boy and Girl fall into the inevitable spot of hot, primal sex with each other on the Formica floor of Boy’s empty house.  Girl knows she done dun wrong and flees the scene, but damn it musta been good because she turns right back around and soon Boy and Girl are spending the day together.  Things get complicated, as they tend to do, as Boy and Girl’s feeling for one another during this day start to deepen.  Girl keeps getting calls from her fiancé, and Boy has completely fallen for

Girl.  Girl becomes totally confused about her feeling for Boy as well as her feeling for her fiancé, then Boy and Girl screw some more.  Girl eventually loses it, then Boy practically rapes Girl while the fiancé tells Girl that she can do what she wants, but lets her know that she  belongs to him.  He let’s Boy know as much too.  I should mention that the film opens with a shot of Girl in a wedding gown, leaving us curious as to who the guy in the black tux is going to be.

‘Lover’ was quite the captivating experience and it had little to with the sex scenes which were about as explicit as anything I’ve seen in a film outside the beadroom.  Ye-Ryeong Kim and Dong-Hyuk Jo are very engaging and likable in their respective roles, and the movie almost plays out like a light romantic comedy were not surrounded by the incredibly heavy baggage that both characters are dragging around throughout the picture.  During the middle of the film, particularly with the introduction of the fiancé, things start to drag along a little, and the Girl and the Fiancé have some rather strange and odd conversations about Hell, marriage and love.  I’m going to assume here, not being too terribly knowledgeable about Korean morays on love and marriage, that these scenes possibly hit home in its native market.  I, on the other hand, was thinking that if my fiance’ equated being with me to being in hell, and I followed up with the suggestion that she should dump me, then it’s probably time to move on.  But no, to these characters at least, it’s just recognized that this is the way it is.  See you at the alter baby.

Though the character of Girl is about as unsympathetic a character as there can possibly be, Ye-Ryeong Kim is so damn cute, and sincere in her delivery and delivers such emotion that even though she’s DEAD WRONG, you can’t help but feel for her.  When she gives Boy the death blow, and leaves him standing alone despite his willingness to sacrifice all for her, her reasoning and logic, at least coming out of her mouth, just makes perfect sense.

I have a question for actor Dong-Hyuk Jo.  Dude, how in the hell do you retain your ‘professionalism’ in some of those scenes you were in with Ye-Ryeong Kim?  I just gotta know.  I mean these two actors were required to be real close and personal with each other in quite a few scenes.  I understand that they are highly trained, highly skilled professionals and all, but DAMN!  Come on!  There’s only so much training a man can do!  Ye-Ryeong Kim ain’t exactly chopped liver here, and is certainly one the earths more exquisite creations.  So you’re telling me that I have to get buck naked in a shower with this ridiculously beautiful woman and softly caress her breast with soap and not embarrassingly lose my ‘professionalism’?  Did I mention her nipples are permanently erect?  Just thought I’d through that in there.  I just want to know how my man got by is all.

All curiosity aside, ‘Lover’ is a very engaging movie that is very well acted and well conceived as I have come to expect from movies coming out of Korea.  But if by chance you’re reading this Dong-Hyuk Jo, drop me an e-mail!  I gotta know!

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