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[MOVIE REVIEW] 'Old Miss Diary - Movie': A quest for a young man

2006/12/14 Source

In "Old Miss Diary - Movie", Choi Mi-ja (Ye Ji-won) struggles to find hope in her wretched life. She tries to grab any chance to make a living as a radio performer, but she gets few chances to show off her talent. She wants to have a great boyfriend, but almost all the men she dates dump her - without giving a reason. Oh, she's also 32 years old.

Her doomsday conclusion about her life is that there is little, if any, chance for her to live happily ever after with an extremely handsome man. How slim? Mi-ja's ballpark figure is less than the survival rate of a plane crash or being hit by lightening.

"Old Miss Diary - Movie", directed by Kim Seok-yoon, explores her slim "rescue-by-knight-in-shining-armor" chance with slapstick angles, and many of the devices designed to entertain the audience seem to work, thanks largely to Ye Ji-won's passionate performance.

The main plot revolves around Mi-ja's quest for her dream man. Her choice is none other than a young and handsome producer named Ji Hyun-woo (played by Ji Hyun-woo) at the television station where she works. Hyeon-woo looks far younger than Mi-ja, and the movie also explicitly stresses that she is trying to date a younger man - a trend that has been dominating Korean television drama and movies in recent months.

But director Kim does not pay much attention to explaining why Hyeon-woo gets drawn to this "old" woman in the first place. For some mysterious reasons, Hyeon-woo responds positively to her overly enthusiastic, trouble-making gestures for love.

What's more important in this silver-screen adaptation of a television sitcom aired in 2005 is that Mi-ja's character should push the plot single-handedly and take the lead in nudging the audience to laugh through slapstick acts.

Ye Ji-won's slapstick performances, meanwhile, are superb. She falls precariously on the street and yet she bounces back quickly as if nothing happens at all. She shows her most private hobby - removing hair from certain upper body parts - without blinking an eyelash (in fact, she winces once when she actually pulls out a single hair from that sensitive spot).

Mi-ja appears truly in a sorry state throughout the movie, a condition that might push moviegoers to link her situation with her age. But the true reality in Korea is that a woman at the age of 32 is not branded as "too old" as a bride. Given that a growing number of people are getting married in their mid-30s, Mi-ja's extreme angst over her age-linked chance for finding Mr. Right - or a judgment call implied in the movie's title - seems exaggerated.

But Mi-ja's family members - three lively grandmothers, her good-hearted father and her reserved uncle - reflect some typical Korean characteristics relatively realistically.

Notable is a subplot led by Mi-ja's three grandmothers played by Kim Young-ok, Seo Seung-hyun and Kim Hye-ok. The way the trio gossip together is funny and realistic.

Considering that the cast members of the original sitcom have taken the same roles for the film adaptation, the plot - a 30-something woman yearning for a younger boyfriend - is largely the same. It comes as no surprise that "Old Miss Diary - Movie" often comes as a television sitcom whose prime purpose is to generate light-hearted laughs.

"Old Miss Diary - Movie" has some weaknesses as a feature film: most of the characters are too exaggerated and the relationships are established without enough - or reasonable - fictional interactions. But those who enjoyed the original sitcom series or generally like a light-hearted piece about love and comedy will find some distinctively entertaining aspects hidden in the film.

By Yang Sung-jin

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