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South Korea 2000

Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

Kim Jeong-kwon

Kim Ha-Neul
Yu Ji-tae
Park Yong-woo
Ha Ji-won
Kim Min-joo

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Story: So-eun (Kim Ha-neul) acquires an old ham radio by chance. She contacts In (Yu Ji-tae) with it, and they both find out, that they go to the same university. The two decide to see each other, but at the meeting point they vainly wait for each other. When, afterwards, they both ensure that they waited at their predefined place, In slowly begins to solve the mystery. He finds out that So-eun lives in the year 1979, while he is living in the year 2000! That's hard to believe for So-eun, but after all In can convince her that he really lives in the year 2000 by making predictions about future events.
So-eun starts to tell In about her feelings for a fellow student, Dong-hee (Park Yong-woo). In helps her out with some advice, but So-eun's love seems to be one-sided. In himself, also has some problems, because a friend of him, Hyeon-ji (Ha Ji-won) bothers him with her apparent feelings for him.
With time So-eun and In find out that their fate is connected far more tight, than they assumed...

Review: "Ditto" inevitably has to remind us of the American movie "Frequency" of the same year, with which it shares its story. Who copied from whom can't be pinpointed, but the fact is that "Ditto" might be a little bit too slow-paced at first, for those who are already familiar with the story.
Soon, it's pretty clear that "Ditto" takes a completely different road than its american brother. We don't get a Sci-Fi movie with a confusing time paradox story, but a finely elaborated drama, which concentrates on its characters and relationships. The protagonists are not interested in making any profit with their nice little toy, which sounds unbelievable. But in fact this topic is of no more interest for the characters and the viewer after some few sentences about it. Luckily, this way the makers also avoid the typical logical flaws of such movies and you can completely concentrate on the story and the characters.

Since the movie focuses on the relationship between So-eun and In there is a strong need of two convincing actors. Director Kim Jeong-kwon found them in Kim Ha-neul ("My Tutor Friend") and Yu Ji-tae ("Attack the Gas Station"). Kim Ha-neul gives a great performance as the pitiful So-eun. Her unrequited love towards Dong-hee is the breeding ground for lots of emotions, like hope, disappointment and finally bitterness. Kim Ha-neul easily plays herself through every emotion, but now and then you'll notice that the script didn't provide a well enough elaborated character. This sometimes apparent one-dimensionality of So-eun isn't Kim Ha-neul's fault, but the script writer has to be criticized instead.
Yu Ji-tae plays the likable but slightly arrogant In with effortless confidence. For ignoring his friend Hyeon-ji's love you just wanna slap him. That the side story around In and Hyeon-ji works so well, is mainly because of Ha Ji-won's contribution. She shines as the devoted and at times annoying friend of In, and proves with her little role that she is capable of more than just looking good.

Apart from the nicely drawn relationships of the characters, the movie at the same time takes another road. Since "Ditto" is also playing in the year 1979, it puts in great efforts to capture the political tense atmosphere and chaos of that time, which got even more edgy because of demonstrations and insurgences. Kim Jeong-kwon creates a fine contrast to the world of the year 2000, and shows us what problems this country went through until its present democratic system of government has been established. For us westerners some things might seem odd because of our lack of background knowledge. Fortunately the movie avoids to go too deep into details, not risking to confuse us.

The eye for details, which drags us into two different eras, isn't only apparent while looking at the settings. The cuts are also done so well, that the viewer has the feeling that the two main protagonists are neighbors who are just seperated by time, but yet are connected via an strong inner bond.
The music gives us also a clue in which era the movie plays. While So-eun is accompanied by piano music, there is a strong use of heavy Cello pieces when In is on the screen. Unfortunately, the music is used quite too repeatedly and non-classic fans will run the risk of getting annoyed pretty easily.

The pacing of "Ditto" is slow, and sometimes there doesn't happen much of apparent importance, but the viewer's attention is always kept up by some twists. These twists are neatly inserted and provide us with some surprises.
Thanks to its nice characters, a finely elaborated growing of relationships, an interesting story and an inventive narrative style, the movie isn't only appealing to romance fans.

The movie has some unforgettable scenes, e.g. when In seeks So-eun in his present time, and never runs the danger of being stereotyped. You also won't find a Happy End in the typical way. "Ditto" is overall an romantic-drama and according to this, the ending is somewhat bittersweet. The audience is forced to reflect and to think it all over again.
Despite some flaws, concerning the movie's pacing, "Ditto" is a beautiful romance/drama based on a Sci-Fi plot, and stands out because of good actors and a nice story. Not only fans of the genre should take a look!

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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