6.9/10
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Traces of Love (2006)

Gaeulro (original title)
The collapse of a department store disturbs a local community, causing strife for some, and bringing some people closer than ever before.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Eun-mi Bang
Jong-won Choi
...
Min-joo
...
Se-jin
...
Hyun-woo
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Storyline

The collapse of a department store disturbs a local community, causing strife for some, and bringing some people closer than ever before.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Release Date:

26 October 2006 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

Traces of Love  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Goofs

The Sampoong Department Store's food court is depicted with an upwards leading escalator. In reality, the food court was on the store's top floor. Also, the food court was empty of people at the time of the collapse; it was evacuated after a restaurant employee reported seeing cracks in the floor and ceiling around one of the support columns. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Restrained subtle melodrama; watch more for the journey than the high point
26 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Unfortunately, it seems as though there's no way to talk about Traces of Love at any depth without spoilers, but I'll try to minimize them as I go. Traces of Love is a Corean melodrama, but an atypical one. Although the film plays with time a little and has an unconventional story structure, it's subtlety and willingness to pull back really help its effectiveness most of the time.

Essentially, Traces a story about a man dealing with the aftermath of a personal tragedy and while on a sort of bequeathed recovery journey, he encounters a young woman who seems to be an on journey of her own. That's all the spoilers you'll get. One of the interesting things about Traces is that it inverts the melodramatic formula of a surprise tragedy at the end and puts the tragedy up front, so it's more a story of recovery. The downside of this approach is that the piece loses the conventional sense of "conflict" in the story and so the climax point is very different from what you might expect, but fear not, it does still provide some revelation and catharsis, just not the tearjerkering manipulating three-hanky kind.

The film might be a little confusing with those only accustomed to straightforward temporal narratives as it's partially composed of flashbacks while use a blending technique with the present. Furthermore, the flashbacks do not serve a revelatory but more as a series of points to deepen the characters. As such, those seeking conflict, mystery or revelation can't rely on the film to keep propelling the viewer forward, although the "mysterious young woman" angle does serve as a surrogate for the necessary story drive. However, due to the nature of the narrative, it still doesn't push the viewer forward, but rather gently tugs. This might leave many viewers bored and the pace is rather contemplative, which might further that problem.

But the patient are somewhat rewarded by solid photography and restrained sentiment. As such, it's a gentle affair, but the sense of reminiscence is surprisingly strong which keeps it from being slight. Performances help as well along with the photography. The direction has a great sense of timing, which is necessary considering the back-and-forth-through-time elements of the storytelling.

Still, when dealing with such a story of loss, you almost sort of want that strong melodramatic punch and so I felt like Traces could've been a little more open with the sentiment. Also, the intersecting of the two sojourners feels a touch contrived, even with explanation. Lastly, the music, at least in the DVD's mix, can be a little overwhelming and seems to be a little too reliant on classical pieces. All the same, the picture moves along with a sure hand and because it tells the unconventionally structured story so well, it still has some power to affect. The only thing is that you can't expect Traces to provide the sort of release that you want from a melodrama. As such, many viewers might find this piece too limited to enjoy. So, I can only recommend Traces to patient viewers who can appreciate a restrained subtle melodrama (is that an oxymoron?) and, like the characters, look more for the journey than a single peak moment. 7/10.


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