Two girls confused between love and friendship leave their mutal friend Ji-Hwan unexpectedly. Years later, Ji-Hwan departs on a long journey to find his old friends as he confronts a beautiful yet sad secret. (Korean with English subtitles).
Simply Beautiful - A Testament to the Importance of Love and Friendship
From the visually colored wide shot outside of a young woman's window that opens the film, we are hypnotized by the extraordinarily visual and emotional beauty that is Lover's Concerto, a feature that should come with a warning label in regards to the reactions audiences are likely to experience when watching this poignant, melodramatic romance. There is not much that can be written without inadvertently giving away the plot, with the exception that this is one of those rare films that simply has to be viewed.
Ji-Hwan (Cha Tae-Hyun), works temporarily at a small restaurant, though his heart exists in photography, the film brilliantly incorporating this part of his life into the story, his appreciation for this art informing the enjoyment that other character's acquire from taking photos. When he meets the beautiful Soo-In (Son Ye-Jin) one day, who is accompanied by her best friend Gyung-Hee (Lee Eun-Ju), he cannot help but immediately fall in love with her. Despite his best efforts, that are as realistic as they are comedic, he is unable to convince Soo-In to begin a relationship with him, however, he does win the friendship of both women. Although the three friends play a terrifically important role in each others lives, Ji-Hwan finds difficulty in trying to discover who each of the women truly are, and in the end, a question to ask is, did he ever really know either of the women at all?
It should be noted, the feature progresses in a non-linear fashion, this directional decision providing the audience with a series of questions over the course of the plot that continuously leaves us attentive, and unlike other films, we are splendidly provided with answers that fit perfectly with the story. Five years after meeting the two women, Ji-Hwan is receiving letters from an unknown stranger, that appear to have a direct link to his past. In a time of e-mail, the choice to have the exchanging of letters in the film appears deeply melancholic, the story appreciating this old fashioned communicative method.
At the same time as Ji-Hwan tries to find answers, his sister, Ji-Yoon (Moon Geun-Young) experiences her first crush on a young bookshop attendant, Suk-Jin (Kim Nam-Jin), this particular sub-plot being one of several, that not only adds to the romantic atmosphere and the varying styles of relationships, but helps to construct an environment where everyone and anyone can experience and find love.
The mirroring of small events, from touching a character's face, to placing a hand outside of a window and feeling the breeze rushing across one's skin, reflect the beauty of reliving deeply impacting moments, the sheer beauty of the romantic climate being heightened by the melancholic piano track that powerfully sets the scene.
The acting throughout the feature is very believable, the conversations that transpire, and the character actions, being incredibly captivating, while at the same time, the film, both realistically and tragically, conveys themes including love, friendship, family, jealousy and loss, none of which ever feel forced or out of place.
The film's conclusion is very intelligently constructed, and contextualizes much of what the audience has previously viewed, and in so doing, becomes a terribly sad, yet brilliantly powerful finish to a dramatically heartfelt story that stays with you, long after the credits have ended.
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