Dir: Hur Jin-ho. S Kor.2005. 105mins.
Coming after ChristmasIn August and One Fine Spring Day, April Snow shows HurJin-ho be as gentle and romantic as ever - and as likely to enjoy successfulbox office.
Once again he concentrateson strong emotions, showing as slow, deliberate and sensitive a touch as he hasdone before, and well supported by two good looking leads.
Formulaic to a fault, AprilSnow uses a common ploy that Hollywood has played more than once before -see, for example, Addicted To Love - but this should hardly matter topredominantly female audiences who will embrace it enthusiastically insympathetic markets.
In Japan it has taken $2.8min its opening weekend from 413 screens - a new record for a Korean film in theJapanese market. Distributor UIP predicts a total take between $22.5m (Y2.5bn)and $27.0m, which would make April Snow the highest grossing Korean filmever released in Japan, in part down to Bae's star power.
In-su (Bae), who works onlighting for pop shows, is called to hospital one night and told that his wifeis unconscious after a car crash. There he meets Seo Young (Son), wife of a man- also injured - in the car with his spouse. Soon, each separately realisesthat their respective other halves were lovers.
Confused, resentful andhurt, both stay in the same motel near to the hospital and gradually begin tocompare notes, then eating together before joking that possibly they shouldthemselves have an affair by means of revenge.
Time passes in a blur ofmedical reports, as each watches over their respective unconscious spouse,sometimes wishing, in secret, that they were dead.
Eventually they drivetogether to a remote village to offer their condolences to the parents of a childkilled in the accident but meet with hostility. The inevitable happens and theyeventually fall heavily for each other, unable to control their feelingsdespite a strong sense of guilt.
Sweepingly romantic, AprilSnow has everything in place to touch the strings of sensitive hearts.Great looking performers, soft lights, sweet music, unhurried pace and fewdistractions all create a soft rosy cocoon of a story whose conclusion everyonecan easily guess, but which is still a joy when it finally arrives - even if itis as impossible as the April Snow of the title.
This may sound like jeering.It's not. Inside this smoothly concocted genre picture, Hur manages tointroduce a degree of sensitivity and allows the story to develop with suchtender grace that it is difficult not to be touched.
The love scenes are tastefuland the two stars have such a kindly sincere demeanour that it is hard not toroot for them. Bae, who played the seducer in Untold Scandal, the recentKorean version of Dangerous Liaisons, and Son, one of the beautiesdecorating the life of painter Jang Seun-up in the award winning Chihwaseon,both look so good that the only problem is believing anyone married to themwould look elsewhere.
All technical credits are ofthe highest order.
Blue Storm Co