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South Korea 2008

Romance, Drama

Kang Gyeon-Hang

Cha Ye-ryeon
Jang Geun-seok
Jeong Ee-cheol
Im Joo-Hwan
Lee Eun
Lee Mae-ri
Park Min-ji
Moon Won-ju
Han Tae-Yoon
Choi In-sook
Lee Geun-hee
Kim Chun-gi
Kim Hye-ok
Lee Hyo-chun
Yoo Sik

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Do Re Mi Fa So La Si Do

Story: Jeong-won (Cha Ye-ryeon) is a student and has a part-time job at an amusement park dressed as a dragon. There she clashes with the singer Eun-gyoo (Jang Geun-seok) who, as it will turn out later on, is also her new neighbor. Jeong-won has a feeling of dislike because of their first encounter whereas Eun-gyoo, who doesn't know that she was the girl under the dragon costume, gets more and more interested in her. Eventually the two even become a couple, but Jeong-won finds out that the bassist of Eun-gyoo's band, Hee-won (Jeong Ee-cheol), is a former friend of hers. The two haven't much to talk about with each other after Jeong-won unwittingly brought great suffering to Hee-won's family who then broke with Jeong-won. The reunion of the former friends eventually forces them to face their past and it in fact turns out that Hee-won has actually feelings for the girl. He confesses to her that his life makes no sense without her and that he wants to commit suicide if Jeong-won wouldn't leave her current boyfriend and be together with him again...

Review: There is nothing bad about a romantic drama even it should get a bit too tearjerking or sappy every now and then, but what "Do Re Mi Fa So La Si Do" (even writing the title is an imposition) delivers here is an all-out messed and mixed up pile of sappiness and clichés, maybe the biggest the genre has ever seen. Probably that would have been somehow ok to digest if at least one of the characters' decisions would have been understandable. Instead we get seesaw situations because of which we are even getting dizzy. The individuals prove to be more shilly-shally than a drunk who tries to play, naturally with a blindfold, "Blind Man's Bluff". The character drawing is a catastrophe and the story is continuously moving forward without ever being carried by the characters or the relationships between them, leading to the viewer always feeling completely lost and not knowing what the hell is going on here!

If it's about love it's certainly not that easy to talk about your true wishes or even act according to them but in "Do Re Mi Fa So La Si Do" we are really presented with a huge pile of crap. Hee-won forces Jung-won to love him because otherwise he would take his own life? It doesn't get cheaper than that, does it? What about it, so you are unhappy and want to die - get in line! And what does Jung-won hope to get by complying to this demand? And why does she then ask for a week time in order to spend it with Eun-gyoo? Does she want to make her own and most of all his suffering even greater? How can you act as selfish as the characters in this drama and then talk about love!? It's driving me up the wall what is supposed to be sold as a romantic drama here. Problems already arise when we can't understand at all why Eun-gyoo and Jung-won have become a couple. That is because there is absolutely no chemistry between the two.

The problems of a missing construction of real relationships is made worse by the actors, though. Jeong Ee-cheol is stiff as a stick in his role and we neither can understand why Jung-won has been friends with him for ten years nor why Eun-gyoo is his best friend. Jang Geun-seok plays the singer of a band that supposedly is somewhere to be located in the indie-rock genre but mainly plays Korean schmaltz which naturally fits perfectly into the movie, but the result is that the kitsch barometer is driven to its max. Jang apparently can sing, but his character remains incredibly shallow and most of all he lacks any real charisma. He can ooze out more of that during one minute of his role in the drama series "Beethoven Virus" than he can here in the entire movie. Cha Ye-ryeon ("Muoi: Legend of a Portrait") may treat us with some tears during numerous scenes but as a viewer we are somewhat irritated because it's not apparent why she is crying. If it comes to emotions the movie never hits the right notes.

The story of the film is based on an internet novel by Gwi Yeo-ni and therefore it also shouldn't be surprising why the events in the movie look pretty compressed. The story unfolds and continues to unfold but that's never motivated by anything. Accordingly, the actions of the protagonists are solely creating question marks above our heads and in the end there is even a twist that doesn't blend into the movie at all. And this after a lengthy scene in which a long concert with schmaltzy music leads to an even schmaltzier drama scene. The strange twist then steers towards a finale that pretty much just picks up where that corny scene stopped and... right - tries to wrench out even more tears and sappiness. At some point even the patience of the most good-natured critic is exhausted and if that hadn't already been the case after the first quarter of the movie it would have been at this point. For the regular male viewer, and even for that with a more feminine side, the movie therefore becomes an insult.

In the end there are a lot of questions: Can this movie at least appeal to the female audience with a preference for androgynous Korean singers? Did anyone while working out the screenplay give a thought to WHY the individuals could act the way they eventually do? And what are the numerous supporting characters doing in a film that seems overloaden in the first place? And how did the director manage to shoot some tremendously sappy scenes in front of a concert audience without anyone ever breaking out in desperate laughter? My only comfort is that I have some room here to tear apart the movie because otherwise two hours of my life would have run out for nothing. "Do Re Mi Fa So La Si Do" proves that a solid technical adaption and an originally successful story can become overloaden kitsch which should best be avoided in the hands of the wrong people.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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