April 30, 2017

A Good Rain Knows: Love Is in the Air

Director and co-writer Hur Jin-ho's wondrous little romance A Good Rain Knows wastes no time in getting to the heart of the matter: Former lovers Dong-ha (Jung Woo-sung) and May (Gao Yuanyuan) are meant for each other but first they'll have to put aside any old resentments or reservations and rediscover those purer versions of themselves they were so many years ago. He's got to shed that unfeeling corporate skin and reconnect to his inner poet; she needs to forget getting dumped then ignored and deal with some PTSD caused by a fairly recent earthquake in Szechuan.

The acting in this film is exquisite. You can sense that both characters are fully aware of their attractions to the other so the flirting is at once calculated and earnest. Each wants to entice their ex- yet they're both scared too. What starts as a chance encounter at a scenic historic site devoted to the great Chinese poet Du Fu (where May works as a tour guide while finishing her dissertation) builds into a whirlwind courtship of sorts (accelerated by the severe time limitations of Dong-ha's business trip from South Korea). But how much passion can be rekindled in a couple of days, especially when you're dealing with a tactless business associate (a comic Kim Sang-ho) who appears to want to have an affair with May and to be best buddies with Dong-ha? Doesn't this guy understand three's a crowd?

Happily, A Good Rain Knows keeps the comedic interference to a minimum and chooses instead to focus on the increasing intimacy of its two leads. Since most of the movie is performed in English — the two lovebirds met previously while undergraduates in the United States — this little film feels primed for a bigger American audience. If this modest review can help in that regard, I can consider my good deed as done for the day. You can call me your online movie matchmaker.

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