Sometimes simplicity can be a much finer art form than an over saturated, overproduced mess and this Korean film takes a simple love story and digs in to the heart and soul of relationships. On a shoestring budget it shows us how a great story can make us forget about everything else.
The love story follows the lead character, portrait photographer Jung-Won and his blossoming relationship with a young woman Da-rim who stops in his store. The catch to their relationship (and the entire movie for that matter) is that Jung-Won is dying of an unspecified illness but doesn’t tell anyone of the fact that it is life threatening because he does not want to burden them with it. Instead he chooses to continue his life as is while subtly putting his affairs in order. He allows his relationship to blossom and continues to run his business as if nothing is going to happen, letting Da-rim grow closer to him.
I can’t use the word subtle enough to describe some of the scenes that are just devastating as a viewer. In one scene Jung-Won is trying to show his father how to use the VCR (a task his father has come accustom to Jung-Won doing for him) and after several minutes of frustration with his father not grasping the instructions, Jung-Won storms out of the room to his father’s bewilderment. His father has no clue what is tormenting Jung-Won and we are shown some of the internal struggles that Jung-Won is having. It isn’t till over half way through the film that Jung-Won in a drunken state announces to a friend that he is suffering the illness and we see the emotional state of Jung-Won make a big shift. Avoiding the heavy-handed pitfalls of most Hollywood films, this sad story unravels and tugs at your heart-strings up until the very last frame but doesn’t force it down your throat.
The only negative I have to say about the film (and this would be really nitpicking) is that at times it can be a little rough around the edges in terms of editing but it doesn’t draw you away from the great story. I would much rather see a low-budget movie with a great story than a mega budget film devoid of the common human touch (cough…….cough…….Avitar…….).
Christmas In August has become one of my favorite Korean films and it really helped push a modern wave of Korean directors into the spotlight with a unique brand of storytelling. This movie is a must see!