The 2011 Korean Film Festival in Manila may have finished its run already but Cebu is up next! So I can still continue my late reviews of my picks from the movie line-up. As you recall, #1 was “Scandal Maker”, #2 was “Secret Reunion”, and #3 was “A Happy Life”. Now, here’s my #4 pick: “My Dear Enemy” 멋진 하루.
The movie begins with a rather weird premise, a miserable Kim Hee-Soo (played by Cannes Best Actress winner Jeon Do-Yeon) searches for his ex-boyfriend to get back the 3.5 million won (that’s just roughly P50,000 so don’t be shocked with the “million”) that she lent him long ago. Unfortunately, her ex-boyfriend Jo Byeong-Woon (played by Ha Jeong-Woo) is a penniless bum when she finds him. It doesn’t help that they have had a bad break-up before because she thought Byeong-Woon wasn’t good enough for her.
Byeong-woon wants to do good on his IOU and pay back Hee-Soo on the same day so that he would not be a bother to Hee-Soo ever again. With that, he asks Hee-Soo to accompany him throughout the day as he borrows money from “friends”. Surprisingly, these so-called “friends” end up to be various women. A tinge of jealousy and annoyance starts to creep on Hee-Soo with each woman Byeong-Woon meets – from a rich business woman, a policewoman, a bar girl, a former girlfriend, to even a divorced single mother. But with each encounter, Hee-So slowly realizes that perhaps Byeon-Woon wasn’t such a bad guy after all, with all these women ready to help him out in his time of need and with all the god memories that they shared together with the bad. So when he even shares his dream of opening a makgeolli 막걸리 (Korean rice wine) bar in Spain, she is somewhat intrigued
When they are finally able to complete the money that Byeong-Woon owes him though a loan from a divorced single-mother, Hee-Soo does the strangest thing by returning half of the money and making Byeong-Woon write another IOU for whatever is left. They part as Hee-So drives away with a smile on her lips. The movie ends with a concluding shot of a wall in a Spanish wine bar with the IOU tacked to it, implying that the two actually got back together and started Byeong-Woon’s business.
This movie actually starts out a bit slow so I was a little sleepy in the first few minutes. But when the main characters started to interact with each other and with the other women – that’s when the charm of the movie started to shine through.
Ha Jeong-Woo is spectacular as he makes Byeong-Woon lovable and charming despite his obvious simplicity (and stupidity). He captures the innocence and child-like wonder of Byeon-Woon quite perfectly. His characterization of Byeong-Woon also becomes stronger every time he acts with another person. He just has a way of making the screen light up.
Jeon Do-Yeon is brilliant as always as she gives a sensitive portrayal of Hee-Soo. She manages to balance the tug-of-war happening inside her character: she still likes him but she also still thinks he’s not good enough for her. I love the little nuances, the small smiles, the raised eyebrows, that demonstrate the conflicting emotions of Hee-So. So when Hee-So returns half the money that would have completely erased Byeong-Woon from her life – you already get an inkling of the transformation that has happened to her. That she wants an excuse to see Byeong-Woon again.
The message of this movie is also quite interesting and wonderful at the same time. It talks about how there is no perfect person for anyone. People spend most of their time looking for somebody who is good enough for them. But as the movie shows, in the eyes of others, we can also be the ones who are not good enough for the ones we reject. This is truly a modern love story that goes beyond the clichés and stereotypes normally found in commercial romantic movies.
I love the indie vibe and camera work of this movie by Director Lee Yoon-Ki. One really feels like they are going on the same journey as the two main characters and each frame is a delight to watch – especially if you notice all the little details sprinkled around.
“My Dear Enemy” is a drama, a romance, and a comedy at the same time. But more than anything else, it is a journey where you meet two friends who are simply meant for each other. Have patience with this movie, once you get it – you’ll enjoy it. The same way with the characters, once you know them, you’ll end up being friends with them and loving them (flaws and all).
Thanks to KMDb02 for the video.