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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

entry arrow7:21 PM | A Love Story in Search of Structure

Kim Jo Kwang Su’s Chingu Sai? [Just Friends?, 2009] is a very slight short film that never really finds its proper tone. This despite the absolutely winsome performances of the two leads Yeon Woo-Jin (as Min-soo, a soldier in the Korean military) and Lee Je-Hun (as Seok-yi, Min-soo’s civilian boyfriend). Is it a comedy? Or a drama? Or a musical? What does it really want to say? I think it is disaster brought about by a flawed screenplay more than anything else. Writer Min Yong-Keun does not exactly give the story — about two young gay lovers who are discovered in an intimate clinch by the mother of one of them — an appropriate dramatic structure, and instead subjects us to gay cliches and mind-boggling digressions such as the musical numbers in the beginning, middle, and end of the film. The middle part of the film in particular resorts to a badly-written song when an earnest dialogue would have sufficed. I suspect the filmmakers had trouble in articulating in cinematic terms the specific gay condition that needed illuminating at that moment. This is sad, because it is such a disservice to what would have been a good story. Consider also the tearful confrontation between a soldier’s girlfriend and Seok-yi near the end of the film. She tells him a devastating story: she has found out her lover, also in the military, is gay. Then consider Seok-yi’s reply to that — a puzzling admission that I won’t divulge here that has no place at all in the story. Alas, there are also many other pieces in the film that don’t fit, which eventually exasperates. Is there a Korean movie out there that tackles a gay subject matter with an ounce of sensitivity and subtlety? Because so far, the search has been very disappointing.

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