I love it when a movie takes the time to tell a story and tell it well. I believe that is what we have with Finding Mr. Destiny. It's a 2010 South Korean romantic comedy starring Im Soo-jung (All About My Wife) and Gong Yoo (Coffee Prince, BIG). It is a film adaptation of Jang Yoo-jeong's (director) hit 2006 musical. I loved this movie. I loved how the characters were well developed, and we cared about them and their outcomes, as much as we would as if it were a 20 episode drama. BTW ever watch a K-drama that was 50 round-about episodes and think "That seriously could have been a much better 2 hour movie"? cough* You're The Best Lee Soon Shin *cough. Anywho, in some films you watch the story being built from the ground up, in this case, it was more like an excavation, chip by chip breaking away to see the depth, the history, and the character of what's underneath.
In this story we have our heroin Ji woo (Im Soo-jung). In the beginning of the movie you see flashbacks of her stint in India. You see her encounter a mysterious guy but in her flashbacks you never see his face, just their interactions. This guy was her first-love. As the scenes flash back and forth between reality and the memory, you get the sense that he is always on her mind. I think the film doesn't show you his face, because at this point his face doesn't matter, revealing it would make him a mere man and not the fantasy he has become. Over time his memory has become a force that allows her to escape the daily stress and disappointments of her life and remember a guy that once swept her away. The fact that he doesn't have a face allows her to fill her head with endless what-ifs about her prince charming.
In reality she is a disheveled stage director, having to deal with all the anxiety that comes with that package. She has a spitfire personality and tries her best to roll with the punches. She likes her job but is often stressed out. Her father is frustrated that she is unmarried and even more distressed at her lack of effort to change her situation.
Our other protagonist, Gi Joon (Gong Yoo) is an uptight, high strung kind of guy, that does everything by the book, a quality that usually works against him. His life is far from ideal. He is a travel agent and gets fired for alerting his potential clients of every type of disaster that might happen abroad. He discovers people's fascination with their first-loves. So he sets-up a business that is dedicated to helping others track them down. Ji Woo's father becomes fed up, after she rejects an exemplary suitor. He signs her up for this service so she can be rid of her delusional first-love and get on with her life.
Ji Woo reluctantly agrees and meets with Gi Joon. The only problem is all she knows of her mystery man is his name, Kim Jong Wook. So she and Gi Joon go around the country meeting every guy with that name and so the adventure starts. She explicates her experience to him and we see the flashbacks of her rendezvous again, only the first love mystery man has a face now, Gi Joon's. With each event it morphs from her fantasy to his fantasy. At first I think he imagines himself in this first-love story, because he wishes he had the audacity to venture to a place like India and have an exciting first love experience, without his fears and inhibitions getting the best of him. Just as Ji Woos story was her get-away from the troubles of life, it does the same for him. Over time I think Gi Joon imagines himself as the Kim Jong Wook mystery man, because he wishes he was the object of her affection. While both of them trek through Korea to find all the 1000 + Kim Jong Wooks, they find themselves sharing some hilariously awkward/ outrageous experiences; like meeting a soccer player, plastic surgeon, monk and a not-so-subtle ahjjusshi (middle aged man) thinking he scored a hot date. Then of course we have the staple forced-to-spend-the-night-in-a-cabin-in-the-country scenario (could it be a Korean movie/drama without it?) only it didn't take 30 episodes to get there *cough*. All the situations are outrageous but you don't care, because the characters are endearing and you are rooting for them. Through the adventure they draw closer to each other and the chemistry is subtle yet genuine. The fantasy about this mystery man becomes a vehicle that drives the plot and forces them to learn about themselves, while bringing them together in the process.
The movie's cinematography was excellent. The filters, lighting, and framing for the scenes in the flashbacks in India are filled with warm hues. The light in those scenes are bright and welcoming, the sunlight piercing in at far dynamic angles and making the scene seem distant and dream like. The present day scenes were filled with colder colors, lots of blue, grey, and an overall monotone-ness. As the chemistry between the characters grow you see the scenes fill with warmer colors, similar to those of the flash backs. I believe it culminates in the fire place scene where reality mirrors the memory, but don't want to spoil it. An overall great movie to unwind to after the kids are asleep, go see for yourself =)
Daechoong Mama will do some kid-friendly recommendations in the future. Today I thought I'd indulge the parents...