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Leading Actors Keep 'Two Faces' Afloat

2007/09/13 Source

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

Romantic comedies come in all forms, starring out-of-ordinary heroines like Drew Barrymore in "50 First Dates" (2004), who suffers from short-term memory loss; and Uma Thurman, an estranged super-powered woman in "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" (2006). Likewise, "2 Faces of My Girlfriend" takes the classic genre to a whole new level featuring a character with a severe case of multiple personality disorder.

Gu-chang (Bong Tae-gyu) leads a tragic existence. The seventh-year college student constantly fails job interviews and lives off of an allowance from his divorced sister while taking money from his little nephew. To make matters worse, the almost 30-year-old virgin has never had a girlfriend, let alone experienced his First Kiss. In Korean, Gu-chang is a homonym for the word meaning "a sore in the mouth".

But springtime finally seems to have arrived for Gu-chang, defrosting the stark winters of his barren love life, when he meets the sweet and innocent A-ni (Jung Ryeo-won).

All seems to be swell, and Gu-chang gets a taste of heaven as he kisses his pretty girlfriend for the first time -- until A-ni bites his tongue and gives him a nice kick, introducing herself as Ha-ni. And so begins Gu-chang's painful relationship with his split-personality girlfriend, dealing with A-ni's adorably childish demeanors one moment, then defending his life from Ha-ni's high kicks.

Actor Bong Tae-gyu and director Lee Seok-hoon of teen comedy "See You After School" (2006) reunite in "Two Faces". Bong has established a name for himself here for his endearingly pathetic characters in the tradition of classic slapsticks: Like in "See You After School" Bong continues to be beaten up and floored yet shows a surprising sense of integrity, like Ben Stiller in "There's Something About Mary" (1998).

The comedy in "Two Faces" is contrived and even grotesque at times. But the leading actors keep the film afloat with their idiosyncratic charms. Audiences will love Bong, the fallen modern-day antihero and the oddball geek we all once knew back in high school. Although "Two Faces" tends to exploit this by taking it to extremes, fans will nevertheless appreciate -- and pity -- Gu-chang.

But what really makes "Two Faces" delightful is actress Jung Ryeo-won, who transforms from a bashful angel to a foul-mouthed thug in just a split-second. Jeong, also known as Ryeo-won of the now disbanded girl band Chakra, made her acting debut in the hit MBC TV series "My Name is Kim Sam Soon". The star has since proved her talents through subsequent roles in TV dramas, including the double role of a chic socialite and a boorish farm girl. "Two Faces" captures Chung's blossoming acting career at its best so far, and we can expect much more from her in the future.

The film immediately received comparison to the international hit "My Sassy Girl" (2001). The two romantic comedies share many similar plot elements, including how the two lovebirds cross paths for the first time in an unusual manner on the subway. Like "My Sassy Girl", the comedy of "Two Faces" turns into melodramatic romance in the latter half.

The explosive popularity of "My Sassy Girl" perhaps eclipses the potential of "Two Faces", which nevertheless possesses its own unique spirit. If you're in for a good lighthearted laugh, "Two Faces" might do the trick.

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