September 15, 2014

Now and Forever: Love You to Death

Somebody help me. I've seen nearly all the good Korean movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime and I'm now stuck watching crap like director Kim Seong-jung's sappy romance about two terminally ill "beautiful people" who hide their fatal diagnoses from each other as the ultimate expression of their death-defying, tragic, self-sacrificing love. She's got a heart ailment. He's got a brain tumor. I've got a headache and gas. And the discomforts don't end there either.

Aside from her cardiopulmonary issues, Han Hye-won (Choi Ji-woo) has some mental deficiencies too -- so much so that for a good stretch of the movie, I assumed that she was in the Psych Ward, not the ICU. Choi clowns around -- giving sudden looks of total incomprehension then giggling inappropriately -- so often that you assume the doctors must periodically instruct her to stand on her head just to ensure she gets some blood to her brain. The drama, surrounding her constant "escapes" from the hospital, suggests a staff that thinks she's a desperate case. But since her best friend Soo-jin (Seo Yeong-hie) periodically takes Hye-won's medicine in the butt cheek, you wonder if the patient is just getting placebos in the end.

That Lee Min-su (Jo Han-seon) pursues her so arduously, intellectual lightweight that she is, isn't romantic so much as creepy. A self-styled ladykiller, he's apparently bedded so many independent women (all with abandonment issues) that his devotion to a half-wit feels a bit predatory. Here's a woman with only one real friend, a rarely visited father, half a brain and half a heart. Are those wedding bells he's hearing or the bells of bedlam? Is he in love or has he simply lost his mind?

Min-su's sidekick Kyung-min (Choi Seong-guk) is infinitely sweeter, if a bit of a dingdong. Falling in love with Soo-jin may be equally irrational but it's also pretty harmless and pretty amusing. You won't cry when the two best friends get together in Now and Forever but you won't vomit in your mouth either. Small victories!

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