Why am I watching an end-of-year festive movie at the end of August, you ask? Heh. You could say I’m gearing up early for the new year, or that I’m just suuuper late to the party. 😜
In all honesty, it’s just because I stumbled on this movie while browsing titles on iQIYI, and perked up at the sight of so many familiar faces. Which means I basically watched this for the reunion feels, didn’t I?
No matter, coz it was a pretty easy-breezy watch; a perfectly acceptable way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
An omnibus sort of story, exploring the love, struggles and foibles of four different couples at varying stages of their relationship, as they approach the cusp of a new year.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch.
1. It can feel a bit like a slow burn at first. It took me at least half an hour, to feel reasonably settled in our story world, and that’s because:
2. This is an ensemble sort of story. Therefore, there’s a bit of a scattered feel to our storytelling, with the focus shifting between stories, sometimes in pretty quick order. Because of this:
3. The arcs tend to be pretty simplified. Even in a regular movie with one main story, it can sometimes feel like we’re getting the highlight reel version of the story because of the limited screen time. In this movie, this is amplified, because here, we have 4 stories in one vehicle. Adjusting your lens and expectations for this is helpful, I find.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Everything’s pretty and breezy. As can be expected of a feel-good year-end movie, everything’s polished and easy on the eyes. I also very much enjoyed the beautiful shots of Argentina, on top of all the other Pretty.
2. It’s great to see so many familiar faces. It feels like the casting director managed a coup, with so many well-known faces in our cast, both in primary roles, and among our supporting cast as well. [MINOR SPOILER] I was most surprised to see Siwon making a quick appearance as someone’s douchey ex-boyfriend, ha! [END SPOILER]
3. Lee Dong Hwi gets to be a romantic leading man. It’s refreshing to me, to see a character actor like Lee Dong Hwi, who doesn’t have typical romantic leading man visuals, be cast as a romantic leading man, and with a pretty fiancée who sincerely loves him, to boot.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Pretty much everything is tied up nicely, by the time we reach our closing credits. In arcs where we don’t get closure, we get an open-tending-positive sort of ending, so all’s well that ends well – which is exactly what I’d expected, going into this movie.
I felt most touched at how Yong Mi (Yeom Hye Ran) and Yao Lin (Chen Du Ling) overcome their linguistic and cultural barriers, to empathize with each other at a visceral level. There’s something sweetly moving about how the details don’t even matter anymore, once they recognize that they are for and not against each other, and have more in common than not.
Of course, Yong Chan’s dorky marriage proposal, where he leaves sweet notes for Yao Lin in the yard, and then pops up in slow motion out of that giant urn, is a cute bonus.
As for Rae Wan and Oh Wol (Yoo Teo and Sooyoung), I’m glad that they – well, mostly he – learn how to block out the noise of well-meaning but unhelpful outsiders, to focus on the things that are truly meaningful to them as a couple.
Although I’d been a little quizzical at the speed at which Jae Heon (Yoo Yeon Seok) warmed up to Jin Ah (Lee Yeon Hee), since he really had been quite standoffish to begin with, I did enjoy their arc, once Jae Heon thawed out properly. And, it’s easy to rationalize their quick connection thereafter, because everything’s always a touch more magical and surreal when you’re on vacation, isn’t it?
I felt that their time together did evolve to become more and more meaningful, so I wasn’t surprised to see them both looking quite wistful at the airport, when they said goodbye. I’d half expected their arc to end here, since it was already pretty satisfying to see that they’d both gained something positive from their time together, but Show takes it one step further, with Jae Heon galvanized into returning to Korea, presumably to seek out Jin Ah, after receiving that note and that really thoughtful birthday video.
I’d like to think of this as more than a spur of the moment thing, where he’s touched by her gesture; rather, I’d like to think that their personal, thought-provoking conversations about life, have worked out to be the catalyst that he’s needed, to return to Korea, and dare to dream a new dream in his homeland, all over again.
Last but not least, I’m very much amused by how Ji Ho (Kim Kang Woo) falls over himself to take Hyo Young (Yoo In Na) up on her offer, to be his rehab trainer. Clearly, she means much more than that, since she’s the one who seeks him out at the station, and then tells him that she’d like to protect him. Ahh. I do love the role reversal, and I love the idea that Hyo Young’s become so cognizant of how much she enjoys Ji Ho’s company, that she’d essentially court him like this. Attagirl! 🤩
All in all, it works out to be a new year full of hope and new beginnings for all our key characters, and that feels.. really rather nice. 🥰
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A bit of a slow burn, but simple, warm and feel-good overall.
FINAL GRADE: B+
WHERE TO WATCH:
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