Sunday, December 03, 2006

New korean movie 'Solace' appeals with open ending

SEOUL, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- The delicately written melodrama "Solace" involves less sentimentality and music than its local predecessors in the genre, but the emotional reticence creates more space for the audience to chew over the plot, and thus makes the story more engaging.

The film, about a couple in their 30s who are too experienced and saddled with worries to fantasize about love, follows the rules of melodrama and may be overly sentimental at times, but in the end conveys a powerful catharsis that overcomes the predictability.Director Byun Seung-wook, who spent five years working on the movie's scenario, said he hoped to distance the story from being a predictable tear-jerking melodrama.

Within the love story framework lies the irresistible yoke of life, such as love, family and aging, which are also real-life issues for many in the audience, he said."I basically had a concern about how to make this melodrama, how to make it different from ones that we usually think of," Byun said after a press screening in a Seoul theater on Monday.

"I decided that that quality is formed at the scenario stage, so we tried to cut down on sentimental stuff as much as possible and tried to fill that space with an emotional one," he said.The first hook for the director's feature debut is its cast, Han Seok-gyu (as In-gu) and Kim Ji-soo (Hye-ran), but its emotional span is deepened with Lee Han-wi playing In-gu's mentally disabled brother.After his girlfriend leaves him because of the burden of having to care for the disabled brother, In-gu, a popular, humorous pharmacist, finds himself immune to new love.Hye-ran's life is no better.

A copycat designer who sells fake Chanel and Gucci in Seoul's crowded Dongdaemun shopping mall, she has inherited a large debt from her father and often has to endure police questioning and detention for her illegal business to get by.Their initial encounter and one-night stand don't do much to start their romance. It is rather the dismal, tough sides of their lives -- his brother and her debt-ridden status -- that build their emotional bonds and convince viewers.The story also involves sentimental elements that are typical in a melodrama, such as when In-gu's mother dies or Hye-ran clashes with her sister over her choice of marriage partner, but the predictable plot pays off for patient viewers at the end. The precious moment comes when In-gu listens to the heart of his brother, and the movie has an open-ended conclusion that stays true to real life.

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