Monday, December 30, 2013

Movie Review: Very Ordinary Couple (2013)

Arguably one of the most popular (and maybe only?) anti-romantic movies of the year, Very Ordinary Couple aims to tell exactly what is what. A straightforward, punch in the gut telling of a rather ordinary on-and-off couple. But ordinary stories may as well be the most extraordinary of them all.

The movie follows Dong-hee (Lee Min-ki) and Young (Kim Min-hee), a long-term on-and-off couple. Their relationship begins secretly as both of them are co-workers. But when things got sour, the emotions run high and their fellow co-workers eventually find out that they were sneaking behind their backs. They continue with their lives, but things are just never the same.

The setting switches between the action scenes alongside documentary-style interviews. I don't think it's intended to be full on mock-documentary, as the characters never interact with the camera outside of the interviews. But it does serve as a good indication of the public vs. private feelings the couple holds. On one hand, they will tell that they're alright while behind the scenes they're bawling their eyes out. It's terrifically funny but at the same time still insightful. This is how people are when they breakup, most of the times anyways.

I think the biggest pull of this drama is just how real it is. Obviously not every couple has regular shouting matches, but compared to many other romantic movies, it's a fresh breath of air. Actually, this isn't really a romantic movie, is it? I've decided to call it anti-romantic and leave it at that. I also heard that couples would actually watch this coming in thinking it's a sweet rom-com when it turns out it's basically an ode to horrible relationships. I find that to be pretty hilarious.

The movie also dives into the topic of the significance of a relationship to the person's life. In one scene, over a hilarious cat-fight between a wife and her husband's mistress, Dong-hee talks about how you can say a million I-love-yous but one I'm-breaking-up erases all the good memories. When a relationship ends, you'll want it to be done and continue with your life. But in reality life doesn't reset to 0. It continues to flow and we have to manage to live with the things we've done in the past. Your former significant other will never be erased out of your life, and in the case of this couple, they'll just keep coming back whether or not they like it.

Both Lee Min-ki and Kim Min-hee were great at their roles. Kim even went on to winning the 2013 Baeksang Awards for Best Actress. They were charming and genuine, which was perfect with the whole premise of the story. This wasn't a lovey-dovey romance. This is what real relationships are like, and honestly that's okay too.

These types of stories are probably my favorite. The seemingly simple slice-of-life stories that shows the darker underbelly of everyday life. I'm beginning to get tired of the superficially charming love stories that's been told for endless centuries. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that happen among ourselves.

Final Verdict: 8/10

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