While the Koreans do make the best ‘dying girl with mysterious illness falls in love’ better than anyone else, I’m not sure it’s an honor one would want. The amazing thing about how well they make these films is I don’t have any complaints with the writing of …ing. It’s fine. It’s effective, engaging, occasionally too much, but only once or twice. As far as a melodrama goes, it’s got a great base. There’s a really unique element–the dying girl doesn’t know she’s dying for the majority of the film, another surprise I actually can’t give away, and then there’s a nice coda on the film. The problem is the director. I could use a baking metaphor here, but basically, the director dropped the ball over and over and over again. The film’s got two great endings it doesn’t use, it’s got some easily correctable mediocre scenes–all from a directorial and editing standpoint, so… yeah. Lee just dropped the ball.
See, the girl’s a great artist and it never comes up. Beginning and end, those times are it. It’s not just a missed opportunity, it’s a logic problem. She doesn’t have time to be an artist because we spend the whole movie with her. The handling of the mystery illness and the deformed hand are questionable too. They come up in some really good scenes, but it’s real clear the filmmakers are skirting the issue.
The acting’s excellent. Lee Mi-suk is great, not much of a surprise there, as the girl’s mother. It gives Lee a lot of different angles to play–sad, funny, whatnot–which lets her give the character some resonance, because once the romance takes off, she becomes a device more than anything else. The lead, Lim Su-jeong, is good too, but since the film never firmly establishes she doesn’t understand her condition… it’s a bit of a guessing game. The guy, played by Kim Rae-won, gets to have the most fun and he shows a lot more range than initially visible.
It’s a stalely directed tear-jerker with bad music choices, but if you’re going to watch one, it’s one of the better ones.
Directed by Lee Eon-hie; written by Kim Jin; edited by Lee Hyeon-mi; music by Bang Jun-seok; production designer, Lee Jong-pil; released by Tube Entertainment.
Starring Lim Su-jeong (Min-a), Kim Rae-won (Yeong-jae), Lee Mi-suk (Mi-suk), Yun Chang (Kyung-soo) and Kim In-mum (the crossing guard).