Saturday, August 01, 2009

[Korean Film Festival] Lost and Found (Dal-kom-han Geo-jit-mal)

Liar Liar

The opening film of this year's edition of the Korean Film Festival, Lost and Found is the debut directorial effort of Jeong Jeong-hwa, and this follows many a formula about love and romance, where the one you're pining for may not exactly be the one right for you, as its almost always a case of that one true love being much closer than expected.

Park Jin-Hie plays Ji-Ho, a nerdy woman whose professional and personal lives are both very messy, to say the least. Being no good at her job and thus fired, her journey home turned out to be the pivotal turning point in her life, but not before being mugged, and getting into an accident. As it turns out, this is a blessing in disguise, because the driver is none other than her high school crush Min-Woo (Kee Ki-Woo). A fake amnesia follows, much like the plot from television serials (which the film makes fun of too) in order to stay close to Min-Woo, who gets obligated to look after her until she can remember her identity.

For those who have nursed a crush before, you'd likely find the premise somewhat appealing, since the bulk of the story is about secret crushes and first love. Moreover, adding Ji-Ho's neighbour Dong-Sik (Jo Han-Seon) into the mix of things adds to the spice as he suddenly takes advantage of her memory "situation", and declares that they have been dating, thus thwarting Ji-Ho's plans to pursue Min-Woo. Comedy ensues of course, but there are just too many elements inserted to bloat the content, dragging it out to almost two hours, and even token supporting characters such as Ji-Ho's friend Eun-Sook (Choi Eun-Ju) who's in it to recycle some silly situations, and to provide a contrast that prettier persons probably do share some of the same pain.

Jeong Jeong-hwa uses flashbacks to bring us the blast from the past where Ji-Ho's every effort to get to know Min-Woo goes awry, though most of the scenes do appear too contrived. There are romances which will touch you, and those that will just plain irritate for being a little too artificial. It is most unfortunate that Lost and Found fell into the latter. I admit there were a handful of genuinely funny moments, but the minute you step out of the cinema, you'd struggle to wonder just what you had been laughing at or about.

For some reason, Jeong-hwa's story contained a number of scenes and characters falling down, from bikes or just plain walking down the street. I suppose the message here is to stand up despite being defeated time and again, and to have courage to declare one's true feelings. Since this follows a formula, you'd see the ending a mile away, and at this juncture, a romantic flick could do two things - make you shed that tear, or laugh at how a reconciliation could take place under the most ridiculous of circumstances.

It's not a perfect romantic comedy, and for those who have seen a handful of those coming out from Korea, you'd know exactly what to expect.

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