domingo, 3 de abril de 2011

Finding Mr. Destiny/ Looking for Kim Jong Wook - I've posted it up on WordPress!

Finding Mr. Destiny
Gong Yoo
Im Soo Young

This movie was quite an interesting look into that S. Korean ideal that is FIRST LOVE. First love is an interesting, idealized subject for many and seems like a recurring theme in the K-drama universe. There was even a 66 episode drama running from 1996-1997 on KBS2 with that name "First Love", featuring the much loved Bae Yong Joon (I'm not a great fan of him though, he seems way too stiff to me). As an American I don't always get what the importance of the first love is in the dramas I've watched, and often I end up thinking it's silly to pine for a love that has finished and gone. (Maybe I'm not romantic enough, despite my hot blooded latino-ness - lol)

Finding Mr. Destiny redefines the idea of first love and fated love a bit, as you'll see at the end.

Our characters are as different as night and day to each other at the beginning, one's a neat freak and the other's kind of a slob in her appearance. Their jobs can't be anymore different, and they don't seem to be people that would ever cross paths with each other under normal circumstances, but be it fate, coincidence or freak accident they do and they certainly do not click right away.

Our heroine , Seo Ji Woo (Im Soo Young) is currently stage director for a musical but had previously even recorded an album. She had a boyfriend that she breaks up with because she doesn't want to marry him, using the excuse that it's not a good time to marry because she is so busy- she's not ready.. blah blah blah... all the things you say when you're just not feeling it. And we find out why she's not feeling's really because she's still living in the past pining for her first love Kim Jong Wook.

Our hero, Han Gi Joon is a geeky travel agent who is not at all suited to selling travel tickets since he always ends up warning the travelers about the different types of dangers that could befall them in the country they are interested in visiting. He ends up getting fired because of that tendency. (He's incredibly earnest about telling the truth and promoting safety for his clients that it makes him just that bit more adorable)

When he gets fired he wants to create a new company but almost gets cheated out of his savings by an old classmate. During the investigation in the police department he notices how much the men were hung up on their first loves and really wanting to reconnect with them and see if their first love could be rekindled. Of course he doesn't get why the first love is so important but he realizes that there could be a wide client base for an agency that searches for first loves.

He immediately gets approval for his business and he's raring to go, but he's also financially strapped so he bums a corner of his writer brother in law's office and sets up his business. At first it seems like his business won't take off but soon he's getting calls and walk-ins... but they're not really that much of an improvement. After a series of weird potential customers Seo Ji Woo is dragged in by her father who wants her to reunite with her first love so that she could have closure and get on with her life. She's not really interested in finding him though, since she seems to provide nothing more than his name and where they met, she's actually rather recalcitrant in her cooperation. Though he's not given much to go on Gi Joon puts in a lot of effort to search for Jong Wook- at one point he bluffs his way through his old job and gets a hold of old flight lists with passenger names.

Though they are working together towards presumably the same goal of finding KJW, the two characters are constantly frustrating each other and are not all that accepting of each other. Ji Woo especially is annoyed by everything that Gi Joon is from the way he dresses to his personality which she ridicules as that of a neat freak. However when he happens to overhear her say that, she feels really low because of the kicked dog kind of look his face had before he turned around.

There's the hilarious moment where Gi Joon "confesses" that Ji Woo is his "First" without clarifying what kind of first and everybody else takes it to mean that they were dating. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gi Joon knew what effect it would have because later on when they're pouring over a document together and the cast shout's "kiss kiss!" he just kind of smirks….

Eventually he gets a list of all the Kim Jong Wooks in Korea and they start searching one by one. The people that he takes her to meet and check out are so varied it's hilarious. There's the soccer player, the plastic surgeon, a rather unclean ajusshi, and a monk... kind of makes you realize how futile it can be to search for a person among millions of others. And perhaps reinforce the idea that if it's fated to be you'll find your other half eventually when the time is right.

To find Kim Jong Wook they even went on a mountain trip to look at a potential KJW. It turned out to be a good trip that brought them closer together. Gi Joon realized that she's actually not all that brazen as she portrays herself to be and is actually quite a scared person who won't even finish the last pastry so that she doesn't forget the memory. It's not the first time that we notice this because once when she met Gi Joon's brother in law she mentioned loving his book but not knowing the ending because she wants to keep the good memory of the book and avoid reading an ending she might possibly not enjoy/like.
Gi Joon also shows his manly and his sensitive side, saying that he's quite envious of KJW since he doesn't think that he could ever be the kind of person that leaves an impression and longing in someone else for ten years. In that moment you can tell that Ji Woo has fallen for him because almost by inertia SHE approaches HIM and kisses him in the mouth. The next day is quite the study in awkward turtl-y-ness, even though they try to act like nothing was different even when it's so obvious that their perspectives on each other have changed quite drastically from their first impressions.

There are many cute and interesting moments in this movie - actually just saying that Gong Yoo is the main actor kind of marks it as a good movie because he always gives his 150% in his projects.

The idea that "First Love" is the greatest love seems to permeate throughout a lot of the K-dramas and movies, and this movie tackled it head on. Ji woo has given up living in the present because she keeps living in the past where she met a good man that she didn't grab a hold of and now can't seem to shake out of her head. Gi Joon on the other hand doesn't really get what it is about first loves that make them all that unforgettable because after what was left of his first love wasn't so much the feeling of loving that woman but the feeling of regret of not having ever confessed it so that he could move on… but he's more adapted in that sense than Ji Woo since he doesn't pine for the woman even ten years later.

As I watched the movie I found Ji Woo to be a little too timid, insecure and waffling. She doesn't read endings to books, she doesn't eat the last pastry in the bag and she doesn't follow through on her plans with KJW. Yet she still dares to pine away when it was her that decided not to go meet him. And what's worse she has made Gi Joon run around on a wild goose chase when she certainly had more information about Jong Wook than she let on. She just simply didn't want to stop living in the past.

Gi Joon isn't as insecure as he appears to be, because yes he depends on his sister, and he's using his brother in law's office because he's not financially viable without him, but he's certain on where he stands. He knows he was a coward back when he didn't confess and he knows that he likes Ji Woo now in the present, so the conflict isn't about not knowing his own feelings but of not knowing what's best for Ji Woo. Since she's been pining away for a man for ten years he's not sure she can love him as he does.

When Ji Woo finally arrives at the conclusion that she'd like to finally have an end so that she could start anew I wholeheartedly cheered. Finally! Closure is important so it's great that she decided that she would finally close that chapter in her life and start a new one even if she is about ten years late.

I loved this movie it was cute it was sweet and the characters were so flawed that they exuded the everyday man/woman vibe making it extremely relatable.

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