By Lee Hyo-won
"My Love" is a montage film that weaves together four different love stories like the popular romantic comedy "Love Actually". If the British flick is like a mosaic of thoughts on love, this homegrown family drama is more like a hand-knit scarf ― fuzzy, warm and a bit tickly. Those who are in the mood for something sappy will love it, whereas humbugs will find it loathsomely sweet.
Set during summertime, "My Love" brings together characters from different parts of Seoul in time for a solar eclipse. Ju-won (Choi Kang-hee
) is an eccentric ― and slightly sadistic ― artist who takes pleasure in teasing her subway engineer boyfriend Se-jin (Kam Woo-sung
): At one point, a wardrobe malfunction has poor Se-jin standing, boxers-exposed, while giving Ju-won a piggyback in the subway. A few years later, Ju-won has left him, but he discovers that traces of their love remain.
For college student So-hyeon (Lee Yeon-hee
), it was love at first sight when she meets Ji-wu (Jung Il-woo
). A rather embarrassing incident at a party enables So-hyeon to finally converse with Ji-wu, and she jumps at the opportunity to ask him to help build her alcohol tolerance. Meanwhile, Ji-wu, who had taken a semester off from school to nurse a broken heart, is slightly baffled by the new blooming romance with So-hyeon.
Hippie-like activist Jin-man (Uhm Tae-woong
) finally returns home after six years of traveling around the world to give free hugs to strangers (he basically stands around with a sign that reads "free hugs"). He tries to trace back his former girlfriend ― "the second half of my incomplete heart" ― and the only way he can reach her is to retrieve his old cell phone number. The new user of his old number is Su-jeong (Lim Jung-eun
), a hotshot worker at an advertisement firm.
Although Su-jeong has an excellent career, things aren't going so well in the love department. She is constantly being rejected by Jeong-seok (Ryu Seung-ryong
), a gifted copywriter and single father suffering from the loss of his beloved wife. She learns to persist as she tries to pave a way into the heart of Jeong-seok and his young son.
"My Love" does offer some genuinely endearing characters and stories. The subway lovebirds ― Ju-won and Se-jin ― picnic on the train, play hide-and-seek and demonstrate every possible way to spend an entire day and night on line 2 via Seongnae station (although there are parts that should read "do not imitate"). Newcomer Lee Yeon-hee
, who debuted opposite Gang Dong-won
in "M", gives a charming performance that strikes a comparison to Jun Ji-hyun
in "My Sassy Girl
"Love Actually" became an international hit because it pieced together heartwarming tales in a natural way. It justifies its use of the montage genre by demonstrating six degrees of separation, how we are all connected one way or the other. Characters crisscross one another's lives in a way that is crafty but not too contrived, and the film made a spot for itself as an ultimate Christmas classic.
"My Love", on the other hand, seems more like a collection of those sentimental anecdotes and quotes you find in feel-good mass e-mails. Ji-wu, for example, desperately misses his ex-girlfriend and has a message on his cell-phone that reads "you're tattooed onto my heart and I can't erase you". Another cheesy attempt to tug at the viewer's heartstring is when he asks So-hyeon some important questions ― but viewers can be distracted by their own question as to why he calls her on the cell phone when she's standing right next to him in the first place.
"My Love" does cater to the mood of the year-end season, but the sweet factor is overwhelming and artificial like a Krispy Kreme donut, and its heavy glaze is only for those with a big sweet tooth.