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As we enter this 2006 summer season, we are also entering a significant era in commercial American cinema, that of the Korean remake. We'll have to see it it also shows to be relevent with the public or not. As you are no doubt aware of if you have been reading my reviews, South Korean Cinema has produced some incredible films since 1999. You can see past reviews and ratings of mine here. Remakes of hits such as My Sassy Girl (2001), My Wife Is A Gangster 1 (2001) and Vengeance 2, Oldboy (2003) are coming to US theaters soon, but the first such film seems to be Lake House, The (2006), which is a remake of Mare, Il (2000).
But this is a two-way street and South Korean cinema has also been remaking Western hits. Recently, Love Actually (2003) became the source of a new Korean hit: My Lovely Week (2005) (also known as The Most Beautiful Week Of My Life, or also All For Love).
This film takes the same structure as its inspiration, but with stories and characters that are completely different. We follow 6 story lines that unfold quite independently but which are in fact intrically connected. All are about love in its various forms. Going through the details would be quite futile, but the stories are rich and engaging, with characters that are immediately likable even with their flaws. The film has mostly a Romantic Comedy structure but towards the end, it takes a rather strong dramatic turn that may surprise many viewers. It gets quite intense before things get better, and the film ends with such a sweet note.
Korean films rarely remain in a single genre. They like to mix things, and it's very common to have a really funy comedy with dark dramatic moments, or a serious action flick with a silly-funny love story in the middle. In this film, about 2 thirds in, the romantic comedy turns into a nail biting drama which doesn't let go until the very end. The characters are also quite extreme in their own Korean way, and that may throw off Western audiences who are not familiar with Korean films and the Korean culture. But if you can get over those two issues, the film is as engaging, as well executed and as well performed as the original. The differences add a certain twist to the film, a cultural displacement that makes it much more than a simple remake. Ultimately, it is as pleasing as the original it's based on and remains quite distinct.
- Laurent Hasson