The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: I Can Speak [Movie]

16 Comments

Unexpectedly, the chronicles of my adventures in in-flight entertainment continue, heh.

Today I watched K-movie I Can Speak on a whim, mostly because it stars Na Moon Hee, and I’ve learned from my time in dramaland, that Na Moon Hee is awesome. Her co-star in this is Lee Je Hoon, whom I didn’t have strong feelings about after feeling rather meh about what I did see of him in 2017’s Tomorrow With You, but the idea of Na Moon Hee learning English from a rather unwilling Lee Je Hoon tickled me, and I thought I’d give it a whirl. Plus, in my mind, Na Moon Hee’s awesome totally outweighed any ambivalence I had towards Lee Je Hoon.

Well, whaddya know. Two hours later, my heart is moved and my eyes are involuntarily leaking tears – good ones! – and I just had to start writing this review, right here on the plane.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Na Ok Boon (Na Moon Hee), a crusty regular at the public affairs office, crosses paths with Park Min Jae (Lee Je Hoon), the new Level 9 civil servant, who’s a stickler for going by the book. The two forge an unlikely bond when Granny Ok Boon decides that she’d like to start learning English from Officer Park.

STUFF I LOVED

1. Na Moon Hee as Granny Ok Boon

Make no mistake, I do think that Lee Je Hoon is excellent as Park Min Jae. He’s just the right mix of aloof and distant, and awkward and endearing, and is the perfect foil for Na Moon Hee’s Granny Ok Boon. And man, does Granny Ok Boon take centerstage in a grand way. I enjoyed all the various layers that we get to see of Granny Ok Boon. From her cranky complaining ways, to her caring heart of gold, to everything in-between and beyond, Na Moon Hee does a consummate job of bringing Gran to life. I felt her frailty and vitality all at once, and I found it all very compelling.

2. The bickering relationship between Granny Ok Boon & Officer Park Min Jae

I love that the bickering growing relationship at the center of this story isn’t a romantic one, but between a granny and the young officer that she’s decided will be her English tutor. I found it supremely heartening to see the walls between these two slowly but surely disintegrate, to be replaced by genuine care, concern, and even affection. At the start of our story, I couldn’t quite imagine it, they were so much at odds with each other; but by story’s end, I couldn’t imagine them any other way. That’s how sweet I found this unconventional, non-romantic OTP. ❤

3. The familial ties

Aside from our central relationship between Granny Ok Boon and Min Jae, I also very much enjoyed the related theme of familial ties. Beneath the gruff surface of all the bickering, there is a lot of care that exists in our story world.

[MINOR SPOILER] For example, I loved the scenes where Gran fed Min Jae and his brother. For this pair of brothers who have long lost their parents, sitting down to a home-cooked meal served with grandmotherly care is – in a word – priceless. I loved seeing how much Gran’s food and her presence comforted this pair of brothers. [END MINOR SPOILER]

[SPOILER ALERT] In the later stretch of the movie, when Gran prepares to go to Washington to testify, I love the way the stallkeepers at the market – the very ones who had grumbled about her habit of lodging complaints at the public affairs office – all showed their support by preparing gifts for her. They really do care, and that felt like a touch of family, to me. [END SPOILER]

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [MAJOR SPOILERS]

Going into this movie, I had no idea that Show would touch on a topic as serious as comfort women. But as the layers to Gran were peeled away, and she finally came out as a comfort woman, and spoke out about her suffering, my heart couldn’t help but go out to her – and to all the comfort women she represented. In that respect, I love that Show took a very sympathetic and humane approach to showcase a historical and political issue.

Over and above that, I love that at its heart, this story is a personal one. To me, it doesn’t feel like a story created to showcase a part of history; it feels like Granny Ok Boon’s personal story. A story of a journey marked with loneliness and shame; a story of resilience; a story of creating familial bonds with the people around her, related by blood or not; a story of shedding her shame; a story of standing up and standing proud; a story of a woman who chooses to live life to the fullest, despite the memories of her dark past.

Some viewers might feel like Show pulled a fast one on them for making this about comfort women; some may feel that the ending – and the issue – was treated in a heavy-handed manner. Both of these are fair points. But my point (and I think the point?) is, everyone has a story. You never know. The cantankerous person that you find oh-so-annoying (insert eyeroll) could just have a heartbreaking backstory. Even though I found the congressional scenes towards the end of the movie a little on the stilted and overly theatrical side, I couldn’t help the tears rising to my eyes. I felt proud of Granny Ok Boon, for standing up like a Bad. Ass. and speaking her truth.

More than that, I felt so gratified to see that Granny and Min Jae continue to nurture their friendship. I love that she made him that coat to wear to his interview, and put a talisman in the breast pocket, with a message scrawled in English: “You can do it.” Cute!

I love too, that Min Jae basically rushed personally to Washington, purely to be by Gran’s side, to cheer her on and give her the confidence boost she needed. I mean, that’s just what you do, for your Gran. He really is like the grandson she never had, and it makes me happy to think that these two are going to be there for each other for a long, long time to come.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A moving, hopeful and uplifting story, with a bickering romance at its center – between a Gran and her faux found grandson. Very much recommend.

FINAL GRADE: A-

TRAILER:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

16 thoughts on “Flash Review: I Can Speak [Movie]

  1. It gets a big thumbs up from me! Granny Ok Boon’s character was wonderful. As for Park Min Jae and his take on customer service regarding dealing with difficult people, I thought to myself – been there and done that (heartbreaking and otherwise). I felt the movie overall handled the story with great sensitivity.

    On my flights last week, I watched downloaded content re Secret Superstar (an Indian movie that deals with a teenager rising above domestic violence to become a music icon) and Chosen (a Chinese/Australian thriller that is quite well done).

    And I have finally started watching The First Half of My Life. All I can say at this point is that right from the first few seconds I went “wow”.

    Like

    • Yay that you loved this one too, Sean! 😀 Yes, Granny Ok Boon is wonderful indeed. I’m particularly glad you felt the movie handled the story with sensitivity, because I came across 2 other reviews for this movie, and both reviewers didn’t like the switch up or the handling of it. I personally didn’t have an issue with it, and I’m glad to find that I’m not alone! 🙂

      Your in-flight watches sound good, but I must confess, I’m quite distractedly stoked that you’ve started on The First Half Of My Life!!! And I’m even MORE stoked that you seem to like it right away – I’m assuming it’s a good “wow” and not a bad one..! 😅

      Like

  2. Thanks, kfangurl! I had heard about this movie and was wondering what it was like. Thanks to your review, I shall now go searching for it 😎

    I first saw Na Moon Hee on a plane, too. I think it was ‘Harmony’ – about a choir of prisoners? Man, that was a tearjerker.

    The last time I had a long-haul flight, I watched quite a few non-English movies – The King’s Case Notes (I really, really recommend this!), VIP, Prison, The Devotion of Suspect X. Certainly helped pass the time!

    Like

    • Aw, yay that you’ll give this one a try shl! 😀 It really is a lovely movie, and it hit me in the heart way more than I’d first expected it to. ❤ I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, when you do watch it! 🙂 And yes, Na Moon Hee is just amazing. I haven't seen Harmony, but I'll keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the recommendation on The King's Case Notes, I think I saw it available on a flight, but wasn't in the mood. I'll keep it in mind for next time! 🙂

      Like

  3. Oh Fangurl – thank you so much for writing this review or I never would have seen this beautiful movie. I did not read the review on purpose (I did peek at your rating though and knew I could not miss this) so the movie surprised me when it took a direction I did not see coming. I think I cried from that point on and a lot of ‘Granny’ started to make a lot of ‘sense’.

    Lee Je Hoon was well cast in this role and really did a great job. It won a lot of awards and rightly so. I have to say that my favorite piece of this movie was the relationship between Jung Sim and Granny and how they stayed so close for the rest of their lives. Intense life or death experiences create intense bonds.

    I feel a little selfish saying this but – I am really grateful that you have to fly so much. So many trips, so many great reviews!

    Like

    • Aw, I’m so glad that you ended up watching and loving this movie, phl! ❤ It really is a lovely movie, isn't it? The unpacking of Gran's character was really good, and I felt for her, so much. And yes, Gran's friendship with Jung Shim was really a wonderful thing born out of a terrible situation. I do love that they stayed close all those years, and that Gran fulfilled Jung Shim's lifelong wish, when Jung Shim couldn't do it herself. So very moving. ❤

      Also, you made me giggle at the last part of your comment! Thank you for enjoying the in-flight reviews, my dear. I don't always find gems in-flight, but the times that I do, I end up pulling out my laptop right away, so that I can tell you guys all about it. So I'm so pleased that you enjoy the posts! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for recommedation!
    I think I preferred the first half to the second, probably because of that “overly theatrical” part, as you mentioned (and some parts somehow felt rushed, maybe I’m too used to the slower pace of kdramas :–)) ).
    Though Granny was great all the time :–)

    Like

    • Yes to both – I find that movies can feel a little rushed, and I did find the congressional scenes overly theatrical. Despite my brain being cognizant of that though, my heart was fully engaged with Gran’s story, and I just couldn’t help the tears. It was a pretty visceral thing for me. I’m a little bummed that you didn’t love it as much as I did, but YAY that you found Gran awesome all the way through! 😀

      Like

  5. I will definitely watch this! ❤

    Like

  6. Gah! What do I say?

    The emotional journey I went through watching this film reminds me of My Sassy Girl. A heartwarmer and heartwrencher in one. I was laughing at the beginning and started crying with the flashback of two girls, emphasis on girls, moreso because the issue is real. There were Filipina comfort women.

    I was totally caught off guard. Never thought that it would be the central topic of conflict. I agree with you. I like how it was presented as a personal struggle, which for me made it more real and relatable.

    Like

    • Kaiaraia! 😀 So lovely to see you around the site! ❤ And, I'm so glad you enjoyed this movie. This really was heartwarming and heartwrenching in one. Particularly in the historical context for you, of there having been Filipina comfort women during the war as well. Totally worth the watch, though, and I'm glad that neither of us missed this one! ❤

      Like

  7. I Can Speak was also my in-flight entertainment, and I could not believe how lucky I was to find it! As it started out as something so light and fluffy, I thought it was just another fun and cheeky story to lighten the boredom of a long flight. Oh boy how we all wrong! As were you , by the end of the movie, I was fighting hard to hold my sobs and hide my tears. They were not tears of sadness, though. And not tears of joy either. It was more like the tears that coming down from a hard tug at the right spot in our heart, and funnily enough, it make you feel good at the same time. I am glad you enjoyed it as much as I do!

    PS: Luckily, the guy next to me had already sound asleep by then so I was saved from getting a bewildered look on his eyes hehe

    Like

    • Aw, hi5, that you watched this one in-flight as well, Widya! 🙂 Yes, this one sure does take one by surprise, doesn’t it? I also expected something light and cute, and felt completely suckerpunched when Show turned out to be so heartrending. PS: Glad the guy next to you was sound asleep! I don’t even remember whether the person next to me was awake, I was so engrossed in the movie! 😆

      Like

Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s