December 2, 2012

Lovers' Concerto: This Love Triangle Works Every Angle

Before it spins off into a cuckoo weepie of the three hanky variety, Lee Han's Lovers' Concerto is actually a damned good romance, and I'm speaking as one who isn't a fan of that particular genre. But this periodically sweet, youthfully true, emotionally complex love story about three directionless friends just out of high school -- one boy named Ji-hwan (Cha Tae-hyu) and two girls, Su-in (Son Ye-jin) and Kyeong-hee (Lee Eun-ju) -- conveys a certain freshness (in both senses of the word) by constantly shifting who is pining after whom, even as they're all constantly falling in love with each other all over again. So while Ji-hwan claims love at first sight for Su-in, you can immediately see that Kyeong-hee is just as quickly smitten with him. Soon thereafter, Su-in warms up to Ji-hwan even as Ji-hwan is fast realizing that Kyeong-hee has her unique charms. Even Su-in and Kyeong-hee have special feelings for each other. In a way, you kind of wish they'd all have an orgy sanctified by the state. Without question, Lovers' Concerto has an overabundance of passion that reminds you what it was like to give of yourself without getting too caught up in the caution that comes after your first real breakup, your first real betrayal and your first disillusionment. Each characters in Lovers' Concerto is untried when it comes to amor so while they may be nervous about taking a leap, they're not bitter. That two of them are suffering from unnamed but fatal diseases is just tragic icing on the cake.

Did the cake need the icing though? I'm not so sure. I saw a few possible endings that weren't so treacly but Lee is clearly committed into making the audience feel a varieties of bittersweet pain, and since he pulls off most of them, I, for one, will forgive him the film's minor failures. A secondary plot involving Ji-hwan's younger sister (Moon Geun-young) and her crush -- the handsome guy (Kim Nam-jin) who works at the bookstore -- somehow feels organic to the whole. It's nice to have some moments to breathe between all that heaving by the exquisitely fraught threesome that is Lovers' Concerto.

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