Between Love and Hate a.k.a. The Unbearable Lightness of Loving

I don’t have much to say about this film other than I really hated it. Like an ugly festering blister on my toe. It’s a well made film and contains some fine performances, but it just hit all my wrong buttons. And that’s admittedly a personal thing. As much as I generally enjoy Korean films, the more I see of them there are certain aspects that have begun to gnaw on my fragile nerves like a rodent on a wire – and this film has all of them squared. There are enough drunk scenes to make three versions of Days of Wine and Roses, enough shouting to make you want to become a monk, enough hitting to become a pacifist and just for the heck of it throw in plenty of abusing women as well – and most amazingly this is a romance! Or at least what goes for romance in Korea these days I guess.

I confess to enjoying the first minute of this film – Yeon-ah (Jang Jin-young – one of my favorite Korean actresses) walks into Young-woon’s (Kim Seung-woo) restaurant – looks him right in the eye – and tells him she wants to seduce him. It’s all pain after that with characters – main and especially supporting - that are astonishingly unlikable and not at all interesting. These are the kind of people you dread getting stuck next to in a bar – loud, abrasive, rude and prone to drunken violence – and we get stuck with them for a whole movie. At least in a bar you can move to another table. Of course with a DVD you can take the merciful route and shut it off, but that goes against my nature – I like to finish what I start whether it’s sit ups or a bad movie – and there is always a hope that things may get better. Not in this dull black hole.

Young-woon takes up the offer of seduction and the film jumps four years ahead where he is still seeing Yeon-ah but keeping this a secret from his mom because Yeon-ah is a karaoke hostess girl and he has a fiancée that his mother likes. The fiancée is the kind of woman a man wants to take home to mom – well bred, educated, pretty and from a good family – but in his heart Young-woon really loves his rough and tumble karaoke girl. They are like two welterweights in the ring – constantly hitting one another when they are not shacked up in bed. Nearly every night he goes out with his rat pack of loser friends and gets loaded up on liquor and fighting words. Underneath all the shouting and fighting is perhaps a rather deep painful expression of perverse love, but with these characters I just didn’t care what happened to them.

My rating for this film: 4.0

Reviewed: 04/07