It has the charismatic, world-class actor Shin Shin Ha-kyun (SAVE THE GREEN PLANET, MY BROTHER, NO MERCY FOR THE RUDE) and the story is deeply emotional.
However, the first part of the film plays too much like a TV romance despite the great acting. The music is incredibly sugary, and kept hammering that "this is an emotional scene." OK! We get it! Trust the actors and the story to get us there. Unless it's a musical, soundtracks in modern films should be nearly subliminal, added only as subtext.
This film must have been adapted from a novel (a good one, I imagine). It abruptly jumps POV to Soo-hee's life in Seoul, several times, which is fine in a novel, but disrupts the flow in this film. There are jump cuts in time and character's mentioned that are never shown so it's hard to keep the relationships straight. I'm a careful viewer, yet did not realize till midway that Soo-hee and Seung-jae were cousins-- I thought they were just friends/neighbors.
That said, the last 20 minutes of the film (starting shortly before the magical and heartbreaking underwater sequence) are brilliant, and make up for any defects in the rest of the film.
I'd recommend a watch simply on that sequence-- yes, it's THAT good. (I watched that part three times)
On a tech note. The DVD I rented said it was 174 minutes (almost 3 hours!) Fortunately, that is NOT correct. It's actually slightly less than 1 hour, 45 minutes.
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