Thirty year-old Yoon-joo is a brilliant student of fine arts, who is currently working on a peculiar sculpture, made out of scrap metal. Her personal life is at a standstill, since she does not show any will to date someone, and can't explain why even to herself. The answer emerges one day, when she is searching for parts in a junkyard and runs into Ji-soo. Without knowing why, she finds herself wishing to meet the woman, a purpose she fulfills after a while. To her surprise, she realizes that she has feelings for Ji-soo and when the opposite is also proven, the two of them become a couple. However, Yoon-joo becomes infatuated with the more experienced Ji-soo, a fact that results in her putting her studies to the side, in a series of actions that infuriates her friends and colleagues, and her teacher. Furthermore, Ji-soo has to move away, to the house of her father, a man who pressures her to get married.
Lee Hyun-ju directs and pens a film that focuses on realism in all aspects, in distinct indie style. Everyday life in Seoul is portrayed accurately and realistically, and the main affair is stripped of anything that would be there just for cinematic purposes. This is vividly portrayed in the single sex scene, which looks very natural, in contrast to recent productions, like "The Handmaiden", or even more in "Blue is the warmest color".
In that fashion, the affair starts as something very "cute", but as reality kicks in, the difficulties of having a relationship in a big city show their face, and things become even worse, when they have to sustain it in long distance. Lee has also given attention to the peripheral relationships, with Ji-soo and her father's, and Yoon-joo's with her colleagues, friends, and roommate, also examined realistically.
The same applies to the technical department, with Son Jin-yong's cinematography naturally presenting Seoul, and the small apartments and cheap restaurants the characters mainly spend their time. Lee huyn -ju's editing keeps the story flowing, as the script does not lag at all, always moving forward, in a pace much faster than usual in indie films.
Another point Lee makes is that love can sometimes be harmful, particularly to people who become infatuated with it, leaving everything else behind. A third point regards alcoholism, which is portrayed as a common disease, as someone seems to be drunk on almost every scene, usually with awful consequences, at least physically.
Lee Sang-hee gives a great performance as Yoon-joo, actually raising the film to another level by herself. In realistic fashion that fits the general aesthetics of the film perfectly, and using her wonderful smile, she presents elaborately a number of sentiments and statuses. When in love, when drunk, when she is frustrated or scolded by her teacher, she is always great. Ryu Abel is also quite good as the experienced, cool, and somewhat detached Ji-soo, in a much smaller role, though. Overall, the acting is in perfect harmony with the aesthetics of the film, and all the actors give fitting performances.
"Our Love Story" is an utterly realistic indie, which manages to remain entertaining for its whole duration, as it explores real life in the megalopolis.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer specialising in East Asian Cinema. He is the founder of Asian Film Vault, administrator of Asian Movie Pulse and also writes for Taste of Cinema, Eastern Kicks, China Policy Institute and Filmboy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Panos Kotzathanasis can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[Guest Film Review] "Our Love Story""
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