October 16, 2011

Daisy: She Loves Him Even Though He's Not Really Him

Are director Lau Wa-keung and his trio of screenwriters aspiring for super-heightened-naturalism with his romance-turned-spy-caper Daisy? Their movie sure takes the old maxim "Truth is stranger than fiction" at face value. For with nary an ironic wink or a melodramatic scream, this one keeps getting stranger and stranger as its story gets more and more complex. How did this happen? On their own, the characters are plausible if incompatible.

First up is Hye-young (Jun Gianna), a street artist who paints daisies as her humble homage to Van Gogh's Sunflowers. She lives with her grandfather at an antique shop in Amsterdam, favors the knit hat and layered clothing that proclaims "Bohemian," and sketches charcoal portraits in the town square despite having access to an enormous warehouse for painting oils and a date set for her (first?) solo gallery exhibit. If she lived in Paris, she'd smoke Gauloises; if she lived in NYC, she'd have needle-marks. You know the type.

Next up is Jeong-woo (Lee Seung-jae), an Interpol cop who's committed to busting crime rings at any cost. He's what you might call a noble opportunist. And so he uses Hye-young as a cover for monitoring drug trafficking. Then he seizes his chance to seduce her when she mistakes him for someone else. He's not a cad per se. But it feels as though he's in an espionage pic, not a romance, even after he confesses all after she's lost her voice from a gun shot wound that he blames on himself. (Since she can't speak, it's hard to say whether she accepts his apology.)

Finally, there's the assassin (Jung Woo-sung): Jeong-woo would love to catch him; Hye-young would love to marry him. Except for one thing... He's neither the target of Jeong-woo's investigation nor the lover of Hye-young's dreams. He's one of those stalker-boyfriend-criminal types, the guy who watches his prey clandestinely, courts her secretively, coerces her into a relationship by making her get into his car when she's mute, then ends up causing her death inadvertently. An ideal he is not. And then there's his profession: killing people. Need we say more?

For a good long while, Hye-young believes Jeong-woo is the secret admirer who's actually the assassin then she thinks that her lover-assassin has killed her lover-impostor. She's wrong on both counts. If she hadn't forfeited learning sign language and opted to spend the rest of her life communicating through index cards with common phrases on them, maybe she would've figured out her reality faster. Maybe she wouldn't be dead. And Jeong-woo wouldn't be dead. Maybe the assassin wouldn't be single either and left with a painting now splattered with his loved one's blood.

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