Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Classic (2003)

Genre : Romance, Comedy, Tragedy, Melodrama, War Drama.
Language : Korean
Country : South Korea
Cast : Son Ye-Jin, Cho Seung-Woo, Jo In-Sung, Lee Ki-Woo.
Directed by : Kwak Jae-Yong
Run Time : 127 min
Release Date : 30th January, 2003

Synopsis :
The Classic” (Korean: Keulraesik) is a 2003 classic Korean romantic melodrama film starring Son Ye-Jin, Cho Seung-Woo and Jo In-Seong. "The Classic" is director Kwak Jae-Yong's long-awaited follow-up to his 2001 smash hit "My Sassy Girl”.
This film shows the parallel love stories of a mother and daughter, bridging two different time periods. The story of the mother is told partially in flashbacks. It will be justified to say that “The Classic” is an important milestone in the history of Korean romantic melodramas!

Plot :
The film begins in the present day, where the daughter, Ji-Hye (Son Ye-Jin), is cleaning-up around her house when she comes across a box containing an old diary and some love letters belonging to her mother, Joo-Hee (also played by Son Ye-Jin). Periodically in the film, Ji-Hye reads one of these letters, which starts a flashback scene which begins narrating the 1960’s story about the love triangle that formed between Ji-Hye's mother Joo-Hee, her future father Tae-Soo (Lee Ki-Woo), and Tae-Soo's best friend Joon-Ha (Cho Seung-Woo). Though Joo-Hee fell in love with Joon-Ha after a chance meeting in the countryside, she was already engaged to Tae-Soo in an arranged marriage!

Meanwhile, in the present, Ji-Hye has some romantic entanglements of her own to work out. She is in love with Sang-Min (Jo In-Seong), the boyfriend of her narcissistic best friend Soo-Kyeong (Lee Sang-In) and a senior in the theatre club, yet finds herself unable to express her true feelings. On the other side, Soo-Kyeong asks Ji-Hye to do her a favor – write a love letter to Sang-Min. Ji-Hye pours out her own feelings for him on paper, but sadly in her friend’s name. Touched by the letter, Sang-Min is attracted to Soo-Kyeong, and Ji-Hye. Feeling uncomfortable and even guilty, Ji-Hye tries to avoid him. And yet by coincidence or by fate she keeps running into him. Bouncing back and forth, the film draws parallels between the heartbreak, lessons learned, and travails of mother and daughter, whose destinies are inextricably intertwined!

Flashback to the summer of 1968...The mother, Joo-Hee visits the countryside as a student during her summer vacation and meets Joon-Ha. Together they explore the countryside, playing near a small river bridge with the fireflies. When a storm starts they take shelter together under a tree, but not before Joo-Hee twists her ankle and is rendered helpless. Joon-Ha carries her on his back and they struggle home, only to be confronted by her angry parents. Before they separate, Joo-Hee gives him a necklace, which he keeps close as a precious reminder of their time together.

Having parted with Joo-Hee without a word of farewell, Joon-Ha spends the rest of the summer heavy-hearted! With summer vacation being over Joon-Ha also returns to Seoul. At school, his classmate Tae-Soo asks him to write a love letter to send to a girl. And who would it be but Joo-Hee, Joon-Ha’s dream girl. Unable to confess his own summer love story, Joon-Ha reluctantly complies with his friend’s request!

Unfortunately, as often happens in affairs of the heart, a third party prevents any deepening of their relationship. Joo-Hee has been promised by her parents as a bride to Tae-Soo, Joon-Ha's best friend. But Tae-Soo, a noble friend, finds out about Joo-Hee and Joon-Ha's attraction for each other and helps the two communicate secretly by letting them use his own name in place of Joon-Ha's in their letters. When Tae-Soo's father finds this out, however, he beats Tae-Soo. Tae-Soo tries unsuccessfully to commit suicide so that his two friends can be together!

Meanwhile, in the present, Ji-Hye falls for Sang-Min in whom her friend Soo-Kyeong is also very interested, but he seems not to notice. Then, in a sweet scene, they take shelter from the rain together under the same tree. He uses his coat to cover both of them and escorts her to where she needs to go. The moment, while magical, does not go anywhere as she feels his help was only due to his generous nature and not from any feelings for her on his part.

Back in the past, Joon-Ha is guilt-ridden over his friend's attempted suicide and Joo-Hee's own guilt. Determined to prevent any more hurt to her, Joon-Ha joins the army and goes to Vietnam. There he loses his eyesight while he tries to retrieve the necklace Joo-Hee had given him. When he returns to Korea, he meets again with Joo-Hee, and, trying to hide his blindness, convinces her that he has married in the hope she will move on with her life. Though heartbroken that their relationship cannot continue, she does move on and eventually marries Tae-Soo. After they have been married for several years and have a young daughter (Ji-Hye), Joo-Hee is approached by friends of Joon-Ha, who relate Joon-Ha's last wish – ‘that his ashes be scattered by Joo-Hee in the river, now a reservoir, where they first met!’ She then finds out that Joon-Ha hadn't married, but he later did after she married Tae-Soo! She was told that he had a son also. The heart-break is too much and she cries.

In the present, Ji-Hye's own story unfolds. Sang-Min reveals his true feelings for Ji-Hye - feelings that mirror her own! It is also revealed that their taking shelter together during the storm was no accident – he had purposely left his umbrella behind in a shop so that he could join her under the tree. Then, when Ji-Hye pensively reveals her mother's story to him, tears stream down his face. Silently he lifts a necklace from around his neck and places it around hers. It is the necklace that Ji-Hye's mother, Joo-Hee, had given to Joon-Ha when they met. The circle is completed – Joo-Hee's daughter and Joon-Ha's son have fallen in love!

In other words, the eternal love between Joo-Hee and Joon-Ha has finally got its destination across the divisions of time – in the shape of the love between Ji-Hye and Sang-Min! ...The younger generation has accomplished the aspirations in their lives what their parents could not!

Cast :
■ Ji-Hye / Joo-Hee, Mother of Ji-Hye (Son Ye-Jin)
■ Joon-Ha, Father of Ji-Hye (Cho Seung-Woo)
■ Sang-Min (Jo In-Seong)
■ Tae-Soo, Friend of Joon-Ha (Lee Ki-Woo)
■ Soo-Kyeong, Friend of Ji-Hye (Lee Sang-In)
■ Na-Hee, Friend of Joo-Hee (Seo Yeong-Hee)
■ Shopkeeper (Im Ye-Jin)

Awards :
1. It won the 40th Dae Jong Sang Award for the Best New Actress - Son Ye-Jin in 2003.
2. It won the 39th Baek Sang Arts Award for the Best New Actress - Son Ye-Jin in 2003.
3. It won the 24th Blue Dragon Film Award for the Most Favourite/ Popular Star - Son Ye-Jin in 2003.
4. It won the 9th Moscow International Love Movie Award for the Best Couple in 2004.
5. It was nominated at the 2004 Hong Kong Film Awards for the Best Asian Film.

Ratings : = 7.7/10; = 9.1/10; = 9/10
[Source : Wikipedia, IMDB, HanCinema, KMDb, KoreanMovie, MediaCircus]

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