Movie Review - Gyeongju

To be honest, I picked this movie only because of Shin Min-Ah was in it and even the description on asianwiki promised that it will revolve around her. It also starred Park Hae-Il, whom I vaguely remember seeing in the movies A Million and Memories of Murder. The cast has other familiar names, too - Yoon Jin-Seo from Fugitive: Plan B, and Shin So-Yul from Reply 1997. The bottom line, I had to watch the movie.

However, the movie was a great disappointment. It was terribly slow... so slow that I yawned and yawned and kept yawning throughout the movie. All I can say is it was a poor attempt at making a Japanese-style movie.

Coming to the storyline, Choi Hyun (played by Park Hae-Il) is married to a Chinese woman and lives in China. One day, he returns to South Korea to attend a friend's funeral. There he decides to visit a tea house where he had seen an obscene painting seven years ago.

Once at the tea house, he cannot find the painting as the walls are covered by new wallpapers. When he questions about the painting, he seems like a pervert to the hostess there. And yes, Shin Min-Ah plays the hostess Yoon-Hee.

He leaves the tea house after sometime to meet a college friend and an one-time lover, Yeo-Jung (played by Yoon Jin-Seo). Her husband has a severe trust issue and that has made her paranoid. She seems like a different person to him now. She meets him at a small restaurant and quickly leaves. Yeo-Jung also asks several questions about his wife, perhaps her own marriage has made her curious about other people's married lives. Anyway, in my opinion, his encounter with her added no value to the movie. It felt like she was there because they wanted the movie to be 145mins long.

Meanwhile, Choi Hyun run into a mother and daughter duo, who are found dead later. He comes to know about it while drinking with Yoon-Hee and her friends.

About how he ends up drinking with Yoon-Hee... Choi-Hyun returns to the tea house and she figures that he isn't a pervert like she had assumed him to be. First, she invites him to join her for a drink...she is anyway on her way to meet few friends. Later, she suggests that he should spend the night at her place. If Detective Young-Min hadn't interrupted them, owing to his suspicion about Choi-Hyun's identity, she may have slept with him. She is a widow and probably it had been long since she had slept with a man. Anyway, they don't do it.

The movie is a narration of an eventful day in Choi-Hyun's life. He meets several characters - most of them are women - who make an impact on him...rather make his day eventful. Tea house hostess Yoon-Hee, his college friend Ye-Jung, the mother and daughter duo at the airpot, the lady at the tourists help-center, professor Park who also happens to be Yoon-Hee's ex-teacher, Detective Young-Min etc.

One positive thing about this movie is we get to watch Shin Min-Ah in a very different role. Though she looks terribly young for a widow, she has done a good job. Now that I think about it clearly, the storyline wasn't that bad, the cinematography wasn't lacking and the direction was good too. Perhaps, it was just the pace of the movie that spoilt everything for me. Anyway, do watch the movie. You may like it better than I did.

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