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Set in Amsterdam, DAISY tells the story of a love triangle between a young girl and the two men in her life. Hye-young (Jeon Ji-hyun) is a painter in Amsterdam who looks after her grandfather's antique shop during the week and earns extra money as a street painter on weekends. It's through her painting that she meets Jeong-woo (Lee Sung-jae), an Interpol cop who is chasing a criminal, but keeps Hye-young in the dark about his real work. Written by
Although Lacking the Action Andrew Lau's Films are Notable For, Daisy is a Sombre, Character Driven Love Story About Beauty, Longing and Acceptance
To have Andrew Lau's name associated with a film like Daisy struck me as rather peculiar upon completion of my original viewing, for unlike many of his other works, notable often for their action, the romantic storyline could almost be comparative to a film helmed by Wong Kar Wai. Though the film conveys a similarity to Mr. Lau's Bullets of Love, the strong focus on the three lead characters, each of whom experience love and loss in equal measure, their narration, that assists in scaffolding their feelings and perspectives, is unlike what Mr. Lau has previously showcased. However, his vision can often be seen during the quick cuts exhibited within the infrequent fight scenes, that are often times frenetic, yet at the same time, focused on the segment's most important characters.
The themes of love, death, beauty and art are accentuated by the poignant soundtrack that adds to the atmosphere, while the exceptional song, uniquely used for lead character Hye-Young (Jun Ji-Hyun), further emphasizes the words and opinions that she does not personally give voice to, which makes for an even more emotive setting. An artist, originally from the South Korean countryside, this location, alongside the streets of Amsterdam where the film is primarily set, heightens the artistic beauty of the world Hye-Young inhabits, making a living by temporarily working at her grandfather's antique store, while dedicating the majority of her life to her artistic endeavors.
Ms. Ji-Hyun brilliantly encapsulates her character's passion for art, and equally gives life to her pain and frustration. The antique store helps emphasize her grandfather's fear that Hye-Young, if she does not find an acceptable suitor, will soon end up much like some of the unwanted items in his store, and though she refuses to accept such ideas, her initial thoughts on love, that are perhaps overloaded, do evidently stress her desires. Her heart, in secret, already belongs to a man she has never met, Park Yi (Jung Soo-Wung), who frequently sends her daisies, though does not have the courage to reveal himself to her, after dedicating himself to the life of a contract killer.
Hoping to one day find her secret admirer, Hye-Young coincidentally bumps into Jeong Woo (Lee Sung-Jae), an Interpol detective, who, after forming an attachment to her, doesn't have the heart to reveal he is in fact not the man who sends her daisies after she suspects him to be the man she's longed to meet. Park Yi has only the capacity to sadly watch, there being a deep seeded sense of hopelessness evident in the feature that is used to great affect, and though each character is open to love, they, at the same time, are scared of hurting the other, especially as both the assassin and the detective begin to come closer to unmasking the other's identity.
Despite one's initial assumption, that this part of the plot would presumably add much tension to the story, a violent, bitter struggle for Hye-Young's heart is not what actually occurs. Instead, the tension is developed through character choices, as viewers are continuously left wondering which of the two men Hye-Young will choose to dedicate her love to, and whether or not she still longs to meet the man who sends her daises, or if her heart has instead settled for another.
Although the film executes its ability to leave the audience guessing, due to deliberate gaps in the plot (that are filled over the duration of the feature), and through a narrative that isn't always chronological, the characters are so well developed, viewers will potentially be able to predict the directionality and outcome regardless, though this never takes away from the emotional intensity of the feature.
Despite Daisy's length, which could be evaluated as longer than necessary, alongside potential accusations about its slow pace, the scenes and accompanying visuals never feel forced or out of place, their meaningful, evocative intent successfully being channeled towards the viewer until the film's conclusion. Though the film's often sombre atmosphere is undeniable, its beauty lies in its advocating for, and strong admittance of, love, forgiveness and acceptance.
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