As you guys very likely know, I now have pretty serious heart-eyes for Junho, and so, of course I had to poke around his filmography, to see what else he’s done, that I might like to see.
When I saw that he starred in this Japanese movie as a pair of doppelgängers, I just had to check it out. I mean, it would be unreasonable of me to turn down a movie that offers two Junhos for the price of one, yes? 😉
Psst: Link to watch is at the end of the review! ❤️
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Famous hotshot artist Nero (Junho) goes to a hot spring inn in Japan, because it is rumored that there is a plagiarized work of his there. While there, he meets a young man Dae Won (Junho) who looks exactly like him. Nero asks Dae Won to switch places with him.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. Show’s production values aren’t the highest.
I’m not sure about whether this movie actually showed in theaters, but to my eyes, it kinda has the feel of a TV movie.
2. Our storyline leans simple.
What I mean is, it can feel a little predictable in spots, and some of it might feel old-fashioned as well. I think adjusting your expectations around this, helps.
3. Show takes a while to settle.
I was a little thrown by the rather OTT feel of the initial stretch, even after taking into account the theatrical flair that is quite typical of a certain type of Japanese production.
Specifically, I found our two main characters played by Junho landing on rather extreme ends of the spectrum. Nero starts out really brusque, and Dae Won comes across a little too cheery and rah-rah. The good news is, Show does settle, and both characters settle too, given some time.
I also found that an anime sort of lens helps, when Show leans OTT. Which actually fits perfectly with Show’s source material, manga series “Bara to Tsuripu” by Akiko Higashimura.
4. This is not a romance, nor a bromance.
This is more about both characters learning more about themselves, through the experience of swopping places.
5. Our characters speak both Korean and Japanese.
Or at least, our Korean characters do. And, it can be confusing if your ear isn’t able to differentiate between Korean and Japanese, because sometimes, a Korean character will answer a Japanese character in Korean, and the Japanese character won’t actually understand what’s said, which results in confusion.
This isn’t specifically spelled out in the subtitles, but I think if you know to expect this, then it’ll be easier for you to roll with the punches.
STUFF I LIKED
1. Junho + Junho.
Heh. This should not surprise you in the least, yes? My big positive, in watching this movie, was seeing twice the amount of Junho on my screen. Yes, both characters take a while to settle, but later in the show, when both characters start showing more layers and nuance, I enjoyed that quite nicely.
2. The idea of being courageous to follow your heart.
I realize that this is a theme that runs through the entire movie, and ultimately, it’s something that all our main characters learn to do. I rather like that thematic consistency, even though each of our main characters has their own individual trajectory.
3. There’s heart and poignance beneath the simple surface.
Both Nero and Dae Won have their own fears and insecurities to face, in order to live in a manner that’s true to their hearts. That helped to ground this story, for me.
4. Chansung has a cameo in this.
..Which is fun for 2PM fans, since Chansung and Junho make up 2PM’s maknae line, and have done a number of videos and various other things together, like this ridiculously fun and bizarre tuna CF.
So, to have Chansung appear with Junho onscreen, even just for a bit, is a fun little thing.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
In the end, I actually really like the backstory that Show gives us, on Nero and how he came to be in this situation in the first place.
Although he blames himself for being a fake, the more we find out about his backstory, the more I feel for him, because he hadn’t set out to live as a fake. He’d just copied one artwork, I’m guessing more as an experiment than anything, and that had prompted his professor to submit it to a competition, where he’d placed first.
With pressure to do well and make his mom proud, and with so much pressure on him to be more strategic and critical in his art choices, I can see why he might have just gone with the flow to become successful as Nero, while slowly dying on the inside, all the while.
I think I would have preferred if Show had given us the reveal a little earlier, rather than loading all this information in the tail end of our story, because I feel like that would have given us more room to explore what this all means to Nero.
I’m glad that in the end, he has that wake-up call through Dae Won, and that they both make the decision not to live as fakes.
It’s only really at the end of the movie that the theme of being brave to follow your heart becomes very clear.
Overall, I do think that Nero gets the lion’s share of screen time and backstory, and we spend a lot less time with our other characters. But, I’m glad and also a little tickled, that Dae Won’s way of following his heart, is to choose to work at Kaori’s (Mitsuki Tanimura) inn, because his one true love is onsen, heh.
It’s also a nice touch, that in the end, Kaori manages to find a happy compromise, where she’s able to still be a florist, which is her true passion, without having to give up the inn, which her mother had worked so hard to keep going. I thought that was a nice way to have the best of both worlds.
And last but not least, it’s good to see that even though Nero and Myung Ah (Hyunri) have given up the fame and fortune that had come with Nero’s fake life, they are both a lot happier now.
How symbolic, that Nero’s returned to his original love for tulips, and how significant, that this painting that he paints of the tulips is so bright and full of life, compared to the darker, more somber pieces that had made him famous.
All in all, it’s a heartwarming note on which to leave our characters, and I’m pretty happy with that.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
A tad rough around the edges, but heartwarming and hopeful, at its core.
FINAL GRADE: B
WHERE TO WATCH:
You can check out this movie with English subs on YouTube right here:
GETTING AROUND GEO-RESTRICTIONS
If you’re geo-restricted, a VPN service would help you get around that. Not only does it provide online safety, it also gives you access to lots of great geo-restricted content.
I personally use NordVPN. You can find my review of NordVPN here.
You can use my affiliate link (here!) to enjoy up to 60% * off, with prices starting as low as US$3.29 per month.
* This used to say 73%, but because NordVPN’s changed the way it calculates the discount, it now says 60%. BUT, it’s the same great price, starting from US$3.29 a month!
An article on why it’s not illegal to use a VPN to access legal streaming content can be found here.