Thursday, June 3

Hello My Love (Korea, 2009)

Love is that queasy feeling in the stomach that only seems to be cured by alcohol: wine, soju and beer shaken and stirred until the queasiness turns to desperate sex. Judging from the trailer, "Hello My Love" was marketed as a light drama about a woman attempting to win her ex-fiancee back from his gay lover. It does aim for the silly but the result is quite upsetting.

Kim Ho-Jeong (Jo An) dishes advice to lovelorn callers in her radio program with heightened optimism, at times proclaiming that ether in the atmosphere allows lovers to communicate their affections across continents. Her fiancee Yoo Won-Jae (Min Seok) arrives from Paris with another man (Dennis Trillo look-alike Ryoo Sang-Wook, wa-pak!) and it doesn't take too long before she discovers the pair sweet dancing to La Mer. Ho-Jeong blackmails Won-Jae into dating her for a month after which he will decide who to be with.

The rest is difficult to watch.

"Hello My Love" is accidentally stirring. Ho-Jeong watching her ex running home in the rain, running home to be with another, running not walking, is a quick, quiet moment that firmly puts their recent past in the distant past. The film's clumsy comic timing only makes the entire affair more uncomfortable, her pleas more embarrassing. Out of respect for Ho-Jeong and Won-Jae's history, and a little out of pity for her shattered world, the trio agree to a (vague) threesome, the queasiness turning to quiet terror in my part.

In contrast to the other queer cinema releases from South Korea, including the sexually-charged "Frozen Flower" and the violently romantic "No Regrets," "Hello My Love" plays the safest. There's a trendy sheen (fashion, wine) on the surface, with not much emotional center, ending where the middle of the film should have been. The motivations and dissections are left in the dark and all we are left with is a dull, throbbing heartache. ***

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