NY FILM FESTIVAL: A KOREAN LOVE STORY WITH A CURIOUS TWIST

yourself-and-yours-photo

By Nancy Novick

Painter Young-soo (Kim Joo-hyuk) loves his pretty girlfriend, Min-Jung (Lee You-young) and she loves him. There’s just one problem. Min-Jung likes to drink and although she initially agrees to limit herself, she bristles when accused of breaking her promise—especially when she learns that Young-soo’s friend has spotted her drinking with another man. The story that follows – boy loses girl, boy searches for girl, boy finds girl and gets back together with her – is complicated by a mystery: the girl he reunites with claims that she is not Min-Jung, but someone who looks just like her.

In Yourself and Yours, South Korean director and screenplay writer Hong Sang-Soo offers up a story that combines a modern romance with an exploration of identity, fidelity, and the willing suspension of disbelief. Unlike what one might expect from a contemporary American rom-com, the female lead not only has the power in this relationship, but she wields it coquettishly. The love scenes are demure by American standards; sex is discussed only after the fact, with bare bodies covered by sheets.

While the film is moderately entertaining, it’s difficult to fully sympathize with the characters. Although Young-Soo’s despair after Min-Jung walks out seems genuine, he also appears somewhat arrogant and foolish. Min-Jung’s refusal to succumb to her boyfriend’s demands is admirable, but her subsequent behavior with a smitten married man seems cruel. Rather like many of Woody Allen’s characters, the lovers display a level of self-involvement that can be off-putting.

Notably, Sang-soo does not feel compelled to tie up all the story’s loose ends. After introducing what seems to be a potentially dramatic element in scene one—Young-soo’s mother is on her deathbed—this storyline is almost completely abandoned for the duration of the film. One wonders whether Sang-soo’s intention was to hint at the mystery of the parent-child bond. Or, perhaps he simply lost interest in this aspect of the story.

Though not well-known in the United States, Sang-Soo has produced a considerable body of work and earned the admiration of many film afficionados (the Museum of the Moving Image ran a retrospective of his films last summer.)

Screenings of Yourself and Yours will be held on Monday, October 10; Friday, October 14; and Sunday, October 17. As of this writing, tickets are still available for the final screening. Visit www.filmlinc.org for more info.

ART | 1 comment | permalink
    1. Jerry says:

      Again, WSR is posting an article for a screening on the same day (actually, a little over an hour before the initial screening). A wise editor would have deleted the same screening from the article, thereby keeping the two screenings that had yet to occur.