Through a misunderstanding, Chul-su (Lee) arrives on the doorstep of Chun-hie (Shim). Having nowhere else to go, he forces her to allow him to stay until they can contact their mutual friend to solve the problem. Their initial contempt for each other gradually softens, but they cannot bring themselves to have a full understanding of the other. Written by
Thomas Giammarco <email@example.com>
Korean cinema is gaining popularity and setting strong examples each year at such an unprecedented rate that films released ten or even six years ago age faster than the foreign audience has a chance to grasp its existence or vitality. Maybe it was a collective march of successful films or a certain perfection that was My Sassy Girl, but after the millennium, romantic comedies have undergone some major changes in Korean cinema and many have been lost in the shuffle.
Perhaps because of this I missed my opportunities to watch the Art Museum by the Zoo few years ago, but I'm glad that I finally did. No point in giving a detailed description of its plot, but in short it deals with two different individuals having to live together in a small apartment, all at the same time while they are struggling with finding/keeping their diminishing love interests. Since there aren't too many characters crammed into the story, it is up to our two leads to make the story work.
First thing I have to praise this film for is its vast use of jazzy music, which nowadays occur fewer and fewer times it seems. Surprisingly sung in English, but it worked perfectly with the story and visuals and even added an extra layer of sophistication to the overall atmosphere of the film.
The actors do a fine job of keeping their characters timid when necessary, not overplaying their parts with physical humor when joking and shine through with their utmost casualness and modesty. Although their little conflicts and interactions don't cover any new grounds in the wide genre of "opposites attract", their storytelling and script writing within the film offers interesting reflections that further underline how ordinary their lives really are. The director also has a good eye for creating details that help the memorability of certain scenes, which is amongst many of her traits that could also be seen in the Way Home.
Overall this film was largely enjoyable, even if it didn't have the strong sentiment of Christmas in August or the crafty fantasy texture of Il Mare. With passing of time it's definitely becoming a hidden gem of Korean cinema and an innocently subtle romantic comedy the likes of which we probably won't be seeing anymore, which isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing.
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