Sunday, May 10, 2009

Movie Review: My Dear Enemy

My Dear Enemy (2008) (subtitled) was the opening night show for the 2009 Silk Screen Asian Film Festival in Pittsburgh. It is a Korean movie starring Jeon Do-Yeon and Ha Jung-Woo. The movie revolves around a man and woman who were dating at one point but broke up a year prior, and she suddenly appears demanding he pay back money he borrowed from her from back when they were dating. And for the rest of the movie, he goes around to various girls who he knows borrowing money so he can pay her back.

He comes across as somewhat of a doufus, acting on the spur of the moment, but somehow managing to keep up a wide range of relationships with women but not being able to maintain anything long term. She is depicted as being very pushy and judgmental. But we don't know anything about her motivations. Like why she decides to take a day to follow him around borrowing money from girls and occasionally feeling humiliated for their feeling sorry for her. You hear some statements, like him telling everyone that she is in a bad situation, but you don't know if he is being honest or not (and you get the idea that he is not always honest, even if he is well meaning) There are occasional asides as to problems (in the past year, he married then divorced. She broke off an engagement to someone who had lost his job.). And she mentions that all she wanted to do was yell at him, not necessarily get her money.

What it does well is complexity of characters. He comes off as a thoughtless doufus, but you get the impression that the affections and gratitude of various girls is something that had been earned by his being there in times of trouble. You admire her for being forthright and confronting him about his thoughtlessness, but you get the nagging feeling that she is only looking for someone to yell at and instead of seeing her as an advocate for the girls that he is getting money from by being slightly dishonest, you start thinking that she is envious of not having the experiences that led to their gratitude in her own relationship with him.

At the end, you see him connecting with another set of girls, talking about a plan of his that you are very unsure is for real. And you see her leaving, with an IOU that provides a means of reentering his life, and smiling at seeing his pattern of relationships continue.

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