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Original Title:
Nuguna bimileun itda

South Korea 2004

Comedy, Romance

Jang Hyeon-su

Lee Byung-hun
Kim Hyo-jin
Choi Ji-Woo
Chu Sang Mi
Seonwoo Yongnyeo
Kim Hae-gon
Jeon Jae-hyeong
Tak Jae-hun

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Everybody has Secrets

Story: Mi-yeong (Kim Hyo-jin) dumps her long-term boyfriend, because she thinks that he is too boring. When she performs as a singer in a night club, she sets eyes on her new dream man Choi Su-hyeon (Lee Byung-hun). She doesn't waste any time and throws herself at him. Soon, the two are a couple. Even Mi-yeong's family is delighted with her new boyfriend.
Although Choi shortly after proposes to his girlfriend, he still has some secrets left untold. He actually has an affair with Mi-yeong's sister Seon-yeong (Choi Ji-Woo), a 27-year old bookworm. But that's not all. Even another sister of Mi-yeong, Ji-yeong (Chu Sang Mi), who is sceptical about Choi's feelings towards her sister and who is married to a dull doctor soon falls victim to Choi's seductiveness.
When the date of the wedding ceremony arrives Mi-yeong isn't really sure about her feelings for her future husband, anymore, because she has a little secret herself, now...

Review: "Everybody has Secrets" begins where other romantic comedies end. The love story between Mi-yeong and Choi is actually put to an end after the first quarter of the film. And even if it may seem that the whole thing is just heading for a love triangle with Seon-yeong and her affair with her sister's boyfriend, we soon find out that it's all a bit more difficult than that.
In a lot of respects the movie has quite some surprises up its sleeve and the storytelling is really memorable. Actually, the plot isn't that inventive, in fact "Everybody has Secrets" even is a remake of an irish movie by the name "About Adam". However, since I haven't watched that one, I can't make any comparisons in this review.

The movie begins typical Korean romantic comedy style, which means that there is a fast pacing and a happy-life atmosphere. As soon as we have been introduced to the characters and the love story between Mi-yeong and Choi has been told, the movie just starts to get interesting. Chronologically we are taken back to the beginning of the relationship and now we get to see Choi's affair with Seon-yeon. This way the film fills gaps in the continuity of the events, that might have been overlooked by most viewers. Everything is just more conclusive and comprehensible for the audience, now. But that's not all. The same chapter gets retold again, getting another layer with Choi's relationship with the oldest sister of his girlfriend. In the course of it, scenes that we already know overlap with the new story level, which makes "Everybody has Secrets" such a worthwhile movie experience. The numerous aha-moments and twists also add to the fact, that the movie always manages to keep our interest in the events on screen.

The movie shines with a great cast. First of all there is Lee Byung-hun ("A Bittersweet Life") who playing a womanizer and modern Don Juan, has no flaws concerning his character and with his irresistible charm manages to get any woman in bed he wants. While at first, we are tempted to condemn him for his several infidelities, we later on get the feeling that he isn't just acting selfishly, as odd as this might sound now.
His perfection on any level, he is cultivated, knows a lot about art and culture, yet is also a man of parties and above all else seems to be able to read women's thoughts, might cause us to rethink if he is actually a human being! Lee imbues his character with great charm and the tremendous amount of self-confidence that is needed for his role to be convincing.
The three sisters are also portrayed pretty good. Kim Hyo-jin is believable as the shallow, extroverted party girl Mi-yeong, Chu Sang Mi does a good job as the oldest, already married sister, who is shown by Choi that she still is radiating a strong aura of eroticism, and last but not least Choi Ji-woo's portrayel of the introverted bookworm is also very neat. Of all the girls she does give the best performance with her transformation from the shy girl to the self-confident woman.

Unfortunately, the interesting storytelling of the movie also has its downside. Since the viewpoint of the film changes a lot, there is no real character we can relate to. Choi can't be that person, since he is almost superhuman concerning his character traits. However, this sore point isn't really that bothering as the actors seemingly give their best to make up for it.
Although "Everybody has Secrets" provides us with quite some eroticism, yet the topic isn't approached in a cheap manner as we might have expected it from this genre. Instead the eroticism is brought into the movie in a very satisfying way, although there is also a good amount of humor interspersed. There are also some comiclike animations to be found, yet at the same time there is also some "profoundness" to be seen in shape of quotes from famous philosphers that introduce us to the different "episodes".

"Everybody has Secrets" doesn't lose itself in any clichés, offers some nice jokes and the story works out pretty well, too. The only thing is that opposers of unfaithfulness might be offended by the movie's message. Choi really makes a mess of the girls' lifes, which, however, forces them into a position to reflect about their life and to decide for themselves what's really important to them. Infidelity as an instrument for self-dicovery? Nonsense, just don't interpret too much into it. In the end "Everybody has Secrets" wants to be nothing more than an entertaining romantic comedy, that offers a bit more "profoundness" than your average rom-com.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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