Enough About Me... How About You? What Do You Think Of Me?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

April Snow (Wae Chul)

Programme: Special Presentations
Directore: Hur Jin-ho
Country: South Korea
Year: 2005
Language: Korean
Time: 105 minutes
Production Company: Blue Storm Co., Ltd.
Executive Producer: Kim Dong-joo, Bae Yong-kook
Producer: Kang Bong-rae
Screenplay: Shin Joon-ho, Lee Won-sik, Seo You-min, Lee il, Hur Jin-ho
Cinematography: Lee Mo-gae
Editor: Lee Eun-soo
Production Designer: Park Sang-hun
Sound: Lee Byung-ha
Music: Cho Sung-woo
Principal Cast: Bae Yong-joon, Son Ye-jin, Lim Sang-hyo, Chun Kook-huan

South Korean cinema is on fire. One of its many anticipated films this year is April Snow, a lyrical love story entwining two tormented hearts broken by a terrible shock.

As unexpected as a snowstorm in summer, the news of a car accident tears In-su (Bae Yong-joon) away from his lighting gig at a Seoul rap concert and throws him into the unfamiliar environs of a nightmare: a hospital hallway in a quiet, unknown seaside town. While the doctors in the operating room try to save his wife’s life, the knife of doubt and jealousy slices through his soul with equal surgical precision. Sitting next to In-su in the waiting room is the quiet Seoyoung (Son Ye-jin), the wife of the man who almost died in the same car in which In-su’s wife was riding.

Seo-young and In-su’s worst fears are soon confirmed through explicit mobile phone messages and the scant articles they are asked to identify at the scene of the accident: a digital camera, lipstick, a condom. Their spouses were lovers. Hate, resentment and searing jealousy mingle with the fear of confronting death and grief, and with an even more terrifying, creeping desire: the wish that the accident had been a fatal one. And then, the two betrayed spouses begin to feel something new and romantic towards one another.

Cold, antiseptic atmospheres are bathed in a wintry light that seems to shine from inside the battered protagonists’ emotional cores. Hur Jin-ho’s airy and elegant directorial touch slides over the gestures of everyday life and empties them of their accepted meaning, creating a haunting limbo where the performances of Son Ye-jin and top Korean star Bae Yong-joon glow with deep psychological impact. An intimate narrative accompanies this subtle dance of passions. Like mirrored reflections on the two protagonists’ new intimacy we see rendered - with unusual simplicity - the complexity of heartbreak.

I LOVE South Korean cinema. Last year’s 3 Iron was my festival favorite and though not quite in the same league as that film, April Snow was great. Directore Hur Jin-ho, on stage to introduce his film, asked us to "bear with him as he hoped the character-centric story wasn’t too boring." No worries… I’ve always been a fan of character-driven stories over plot-heavy, special effects action-type movies. Frankly, I find stories about people very interesting. Unlike a lot of north American (okay, American) “character films” that use dialogue as the main driver of a film, April Snow (typical, I’ve found of South Korean film) uses silence and gestures to convey the same message. What I mean is that the actors actually act. How novel. The film is deliberate, every word is significant and every gesture laden with emotion. For a film in which not very much happened and very little was said – I came away with a lot. I felt invested in the story and in each of the characters and found myself rooting for them in the end. A really beautiful film and if you enjoy this type of thing, it’s a MUST SEE.

Posted by Brown Eyed Girl :: 1:00 PM :: 2 Comments:

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