Saturday, March 10, 2012

Movie Review: Christmas in August (1998)

Ah, forgive me for not writing yesterday. But to compensate, I will write two today. Hopefully I can pull through. Anyways, for this post I'm going to review one of Korea's beloved films, Christmas in August which was released back in 1998 and directed by Hur Jin-ho. A quiet, slice of life movie that gives a punch, this is such a lovely movie that any Korean movie lover should get a chance to watch.

The movie follows the life of Jung-won (Han Suk-kyu), a photographer and owner of a photo shop in a quiet part of town, during his last days. During this time he meets Da-rim (Shim Eun-ha), a parking officer, and soon starts to fall for her. With his impending death, he tries to live life as it is and slowly tells his beloved about the news.

Despite the subject of death, the movie doesn't dwell on it much. In fact, we never really know what illness Jung-won has. Even with the news of illness, the atmosphere of the movie doesn't get depressing only until the very end. This movie touches on death in a different way and indeed this is refreshing.

The loveliest thing about this movie is definitely the slow, easy pace. It may seem boring, especially when Korea is famous for their tales filled with shocking twists and turns, but because of that, it's very pleasant. Even their romantic relationship was played down low. The two never even developed a "proper" romantic relationship, even until the end.

Memories, or leaving them, is an important factor of the movie. In fact, isn't that the point of Jung-won's job? He becomes the captor of people's memories. When it was time to leave, he then becomes the ones who is left to leave some. Whether it was in the form of notes, or photos, and conversation, it was his last duty. It wasn't so much of a big deal in terms of action, but it makes the eyes water.

Han Suk-kyu and Shim Eun-ha also provided exceptional performances that just worked really well. They were subtle yet very engaging. Even without a lot of action of many words, they were able to convey such emotions. These two left Christmas in August as more refined artists and more so legends.

Even though there are many romantic movies out there that touches the heart, this movie was so delightful without being overbearing, touching without trying too hard. Who knew a quiet movie can leave you sobbing like a baby? I think my words didn't quite catch the beauty that is this movie. If you get a chance to watch this movie, do it now. A definite oldie but goodie. Or wonderfulness-ie.

Final verdict: 8/10

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