Sunday, September 25, 2011

CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST

Korean Film Festival
Cinema 3, SM North Asia



If you knew that you don't have much time left in this world how would you spend your last few days? This premise is poignantly explored in this simple yet meaningful Korean film.

Jung-Won, a 30 something owner of a photo store goes about with his daily existence fully aware that he is terminally ill. Yet he doesn't succumb to fear or self pity, but remains his smiling and joyful self. Only his family knows of his condition and the audience is not given elaborate details of his sickness.

Pretty content to live his life based on routine by minding his photography business, he slowly finds himself falling in love with a regular customer of his shop. Da-rim is a young traffic enforcer who frequently goes to his shop to have the pictures of the parking offenders developed. Soon enough, they go out on 'dates' but Jung-Won never discloses to her about his illness.

This film features the Asian perspective in dealing with a tricky subject like death. There are no tragic melodramatic moments where the lead character goes off to find himself before his life ends. They are no 'bucket list' chores to be fulfilled. No lengthy drawn out crying scenes of self pity, either.

Even though we get a sense of how Jung-won and Da-rim feel about each other, there was never a formal declaration of their feelings. This is a singular romance in which no one actually says "I love you" or displays any other such overt signs of affection, yet the emotional undercurrent is no less stirring.

The movie stands on its own by virtue of its ability to convey the most powerful and moving emotions with simple gestures, subtle expressions, and a measured and intimate approach.

The subtle approach taken by the director as well as the powerful yet restrained performances of the two lead stars make "Christmas in August" an invigorating and thought provoking movie about life, death and love!

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