Traces of Love

Koreans make all sorts of romances – sex crazed ones, funny ones, adolescent ones – but the kind that particularly appeal to me are the melodramatic ones that are soaked in beautiful gauzy atmosphere with beautiful appealing noble lovers, tragic overtones and sumptuous cinematography. These types have me on the edge of tears from the first dewy eyed look at the heroine or longing strains of saccharine strings. Some of these films that come to mind are “The Classic”, “Love Concerto” and “Il Mare”. “Traces of Love” falls very neatly into this group – stunningly shot and an emotional landmine field.

Choi Hyeon-woo (Yu Ji-tae) and his girlfriend Seo Min-ju (Kim Ji-su – “This Charming Girl”) are very much in love – are very beautiful – and are about to get married. Tragically, she is killed in a building collapse (based on a true event) and he goes into a slow emotional collapse that leaves him empty inside. Years later he has become a prosecutor but has been unable to regain his urge to live when Min-ju’s father leaves him a book that she had been working on before she died. It turns out to be the itinerary that she had planned for their honeymoon – a series of stunning landscapes around Korea. He decides to follow it and try to exorcise his inner devils as he believes that he caused her death by forcing her to meet him in the location where she died. In his spiritual journey he continues to bump into the same woman (Eom Ji-weon) who oddly appears to have the same trip planned as he – and eventually it dawns on the viewer who this woman must be and her connection to Min-ju is an emotional haymaker. The film weaves in and out of the past and present and it slowly crushes you like a boa with its story of pure love, of remembered love and the need to move on but forever cherish. Bring on the Kleenex.

My rating for this film: 7.5

Reviewed: 02/07