There’s no easy way to start this, so I’ve just gotta blurt it out: this is a great movie. The characters are fresh and engaging, the plot is simple yet manages to surprise, and the whole is just superbly well-crafted. It’s long, but well worth it: there’s a bit of sag in the middle, but otherwise it’s a goer from beginning to end.
Now it gets even harder: why is it so great? Well, the actors handle their roles with verve and energy and, dare I say it, sass, and the writer/director must take some credit, for producing the snappy pace and quirky situations. The initial sketching of the characters is done in very broad strokes, and gives us a hero and heroine who are interesting and clearly at odds. The hero, likeable but perhaps a tad shallow in his preference for quiet, pretty girly girls, doesn’t look like a suitable match for anyone with any depth, and we’re caught early on thinking this might be a predictable adventure.
Not so, once we meet the heroine: we find her on the train, pissed as a newt (a marvellous phrase from my youth that I’m determined to resurrect), and not exactly presenting at her best. She’s even less appealing when she throws up and calls our hero “Honey” before passing out, since this leads to the passengers assuming he is her boyfriend, and demanding that he clean up. Ick. Double ick. But we soon see another side to both characters as a result: he cleans up and carries her about town rather than abandon her, and she shows a hint of the sadness that drives her to be such a pain. He even takes her to a love hotel, and stays with her, but doesn’t attempt to molest her in her sleep (luckily, or I’d have stopped watching right there).
After that, the rest of the film consists mostly of our hero being dragged around Seoul, abused, misused, and humiliated, but ever more determined to delve to the heart of this perplexing girl. From a female point of view, and a fairly fractious female at that, it’s nice to see the girl getting to call the shots. I particularly liked seeing her make the hero wear her high-heel shoes all the way home when her feet hurt: instead of letting him carry her, she makes him realise just how uncomfortable heels can be. It takes the wind out of the whole “rescuing hero” image, where the strong man helps the fragile girly without actually having to empathise.
I could wiffle on forever, but I won’t. All I’ll say is that, if you like romantic comedies, this is an absolute stunner, and if you don’t, it’s still an absolute stunner. See it for the laughs, see it for the love, or see it for the turning upside down of gender stereotypes, but just see it.