December 24, 2008

Christmas in August: Sentimentality That Leaves You Cold

Christmas in August is sick. If I were a doctor, I'd go so far as to diagnose its lead character (played by Han Syu-kyu) with a brain tumor. We know he's dying of something; professionally, I'd say his tendency to giggle over nothing indicates a foreign mass causing unwanted stress in the cranial cavity. Either that or he's borderline brain dead. Same for his simpleton girlfriend (Shim Euh-ha), a traffic cop inexplicably drawn to his childlike, masochistic ways. She never learns (while he's alive) that his days are numbered; he's too busy being stoic in his gratingly lighthearted way. But before he's found his resting place in the local crematorium and she's learned to flirt with other guys at a rockabilly bar, director Hur Jin-ho will force us to sit through their stumbling, maudlin courtship. It's a big screen romance skipping from one cliche to the next: the late night stroll in which one lover tells the other a ghost story about farting, the rollercoaster ride at the amusement park followed by shared ice cream... vanilla, of course. They never have sex but then, it's hard to have a menage a trois when the third party is death. Next up for Hur? Hanukkah in July. Prognosis? Fatal.

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