Monday, July 20, 2009

My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀)

I love movies. Yes, I complain about working on them (a lot!) and I whine endlessly ... but at the end of the day, I love movies. I like watching them, criticizing them, talking about them, quoting them, and generally being a movie nerd.

During last Thursday's Santa Monica Pier shindig, I was talking to a Chinese friend. He asked me if I had ever watched "My Sassy Girl." I had heard of the movie, but hadn't ever seen it. I told him as much, and he said he'd get it to me.

(A frustrating thing about this friend? He and I don't have each other's phone numbers. In this day and age, when strangers have one another's numbers, how do we manage? I've known him for about four years! Being a girl, and a stubborn girl, I categorically refuse to ask for his number. Don't bother telling me I'm unreasonable.)


I saw my best friend yesterday- we had decided to go to Disneyland (again). She had with her a DVD from the phone-number-less-friend of, what else, "My Sassy Girl," 엽기적인 그녀 (which really translates to "That Freaky Girl" or, according to Wiki, "That Bizarre Girl").

(Disneyland was great, by the way- we started at California Adventure and made our way to Disneyland. Those annual passes, they are being put to good use!)

I decided to watch the movie this afternoon. I'm on vacation for two weeks, I got nothing better to do (other than the several appointments I've made).

My mother watched it with me, and my father joined us about halfway through.

About halfway through the movie, my mom turns to me and says (in Korean), "Oh, it's a COMEDY."

I burst out laughing- the whole time we had been watching, she kept thinking it was a melodrama and the dramatic tension would start at any moment.

I know this movie blew up when it first came out, in 2001, and there were several remakes made in several different countries. I can't imagine that any of the subsequent homages were better than the original, which was charming and self-deprecating and emotional without being twee.

Cha Tae-Hyun (차태현), who plays the hapless hero that we love, pity, and mock, was cast perfectly. When last I saw him, he was a doctor on the atrociously boring drama "General Hospital 2" (종합병원 2), so my opinion of him was low. I didn't know if I was going to be able to get over my previous perception of him, but his dimwitted, good-natured character won me over.

Jun Ji-Hyun (전지현), currently appearing in "Blood: The Last Vampire," is deceptively sweet and delicate-looking. My phone-number-less-friend was asking me what is up with Korean women beating their men (watching 솔약국집 아들들 right this second, and the mom is smacking one of her sons around something awful!) and I tried to deflect, not really understanding what he meant by "beating."

I now know what he meant by "beating," and while I agree with him that it was excessive (she punches rather than slaps!), it wasn't without reason. No gratuitous violence, that, it was violence with cause.

"My Sassy Girl" must have been fun to make, what with all the abuse that Jun Ji-Hyun gets to dish out to Cha Tae-Hyun. Well, fun for her- maybe not so much for him.

The story can be explained simply, but takes so many twists and turns that the synopsis won't do it justice at all. Here it is, though:

A college student meets a drunken girl on a subway platform and their relationship develops from there.

Easy, yes?

No, not really.

The movie was really simply done- no elaborate sets, no insane lighting, no exaggerated grain or color. It really lets the viewer focus on the dialogue (much of it is narrated by the male character) and the actions of the two confused college kids.

I found out that the movie is based off a true story. A man wrote about his experiences on his blog, a publisher found the blog and convince the man to write a book, and then the book was adapted into a movie. There is a ring of truth to the story, as absurd as it gets- it doesn't become a farce (well ... maybe just one sequence...) or so far-fetched that I started laughing at inappropriate momens.

I don't want to give away the big twist (which I actually guessed and told my mother, who had no earthly clue), so I'll just keep prattling on with random thoughts.

- School uniforms. So crap they loop all the way back to awesome. I totally want one!

- White heels and a white bag. Yes, I'm going to be superficial and talk about accessories. Jun Ji-Hyun's character has a great look when she's "dressed up" for blind dates. Normally, her look is boring college student. I liked the prim and proper style that was obviously foisted on her by her mother. She wears a great white blazer with matching white skirt, too- brave and cute.

- It occurred to me that Koreans are patient with their plots, don't need instant gratification- the movie spans a rather long period of time, the editing was non-linear, it jumped around, there were ideas and themes that needed to be actually sought out, rather than handed right to the audience on an outthrust silver spoon.

- I want to make a time capsule! In the shape of an egg!

- Girls can hold their liquor better than that. I am insulted. Of course, I can hold my liquor better than most boys that I know ... so perhaps I am not the best person to talk about such things.

- Do they still make guys like that? Sweet and thoughtful and hopelessly romantic? Able to write and emote?

Great summer movie! Easy to watch, but not mindless eye candy, like so many of the blockbusters can be. I will definitely be watching it again.


ate July 22, 2009 at 10:15 AM  

This was actually the very first Korean movie I saw sometime last year.

From then on, I was hooked =)

jeanny July 26, 2009 at 11:12 PM  

I plan on watching this movie again, possibly with one of my friends who is EXACTLY like the male lead!