Couples (Jeong Yong-Ki, S. Korea, 2011) is not an easy storyline to explain, but that is perhaps one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much. A remake of the film Stranger of Mine (Ken Uchida, Japan 2005), the main action takes place during one day as we follow the story of several couples and how their lives intertwine and influence their relationships with each other. The timeline of this story however is not a traditional arc that goes from A to B, but jumps back and forth in the present and flashbacks to the past to build into a crescendo of events.
I like films that play with time and story and the main scene that we build up to shows how well the the narrative had to be crafted. The planning and timing of the events was absolutely superbly done, not one thing out of place or poorly executed. It seems a paradox that the chaos portrayed had to be to meticulously controlled, but as someone who likes to play with time and story when writing fiction, I really appreciated this a lot.
Whilst I am not fond of her as an actress, Lee ShiYeong was well cast as the flighty NaRi with good comic timing and expression, though having seen some of her previous roles in dramas such as Boys Over Flowers and Playful Kiss she has not yet come out of her comfort zone. Kim Ju-Hyeok did well as the lovelorn teashop owner Yoo-Suk, oblivious to anything but the chaos of his own day and Oh Jung-Se as Bok-Nam, his rather inept and overly dramatic friend. Lee Yoon-Ji (whom drama fans will recognise from Dream High and Goong) was very sweet and effective as Ae-Yeon the traffic policewoman with a hidden motive and it was the perfect movie to kick off the Korean Breakfast Club at the festival.
I know the film wasn’t that much of a hit with some other people at the festival, and perhaps this too, like Arirang is a little divisive in opinions, but I thought it was smart, funny and well worth making the effort to watch. I’m going to have to look for the original version now to see how they compare and whether the change in cultural settings changes the pace and narrative.
Jeong Yong-Ki (정용기): Couples (커플즈) (2011)
Originally posted on Saharial’s blog, Countingpulses.com