February 28, 2009

My Mother and Her Guest: The High Road Leads to Heartbreak

On paper, mother (Choi Eun-hee) isn't such a great catch. She's sexually repressed, she beats her daughter, and she's so old-fashioned that she's afraid to get her hair styled in a modern cut. Even with all these shortcomings, however, you secretly hope the 28-year-old widow will somehow climb out of her suffocating shell and forge a romantic relationship with the dashing boarder (Kim Jin-kyu) who's shacking up with her, her daughter (Jeon Yeong-seon), and her mother-in-law (Han Eun-jin). Plenty of opportunities present themselves thanks to the conniving of her child, an adorable tyke who takes great pleasure out of telling little lies that add to the drama of the household. Love letters lead to a single encounter at the family well where you think the roomer and the widow might finally kiss but he's been out on a bender so she can't bring herself to taste his liquored breath. It's a night of hugs! She's a woman of principle! This is not a romantic comedy! In melodrama, the only chance an upstanding woman has at getting married depends on shame. That certainly worked for her maid (Do Geum-bong) and an egg vendor (Kim Hee-gab) who end up getting hitched after he got overly intimate with her eggs one afternoon. Chastity is a source of pride not happiness in this memorable film from director Shin Sang-ok.

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