Story: Professor Su-yeong (Jeong Jin-yeong) is asked by his students to tell them about his first love. The story the professor is about to
tell is infused with quite a few pecularities. Su-yeong (Jeong Kyeong-ho) has met lively "Pippi" (Kim Gyoo-ri) as a student, a girl who never may have told him
her real name, but who he slowly started to become friends with. However, he doesn't seem to know her that well after all, because she suddenly commits suicide
in front of all students. But that's when things really get odd. Because after that Su-yeong still sees her on several occasions. She even helps him find
work as a tutor. His student Su-ji (Cha Soo-yeon) is quite withdrawn, though, and lives in a creepy mansion. Still, as days and weeks pass it becomes
apparant that she has feelings for Su-yeong. But something isn't right about her. Moreover, Su-yeong doesn't understand why Pippi's ghost has led him to
the girl. Slowly but surely the student realizes the truth...
Review: Every now and then you stumble upon a movie that makes you wonder why most critics tore it to shreds. At least "For Eternal
Hearts" managed to score some positive reviews with "normal" audiences. The reason why this mystery romance mainly arouse question marks above critics'
heads and caused aversion to it seems to be the genre mix. Unfortunately, "For Eternal Hearts" is misunderstood by most. This isn't supposed to be a
ghost story that will give you the creeps while on the other hand a love story stands in the focus, wanting to score with its pureness and naivity.
Instead, the movie rather wanders in a twilight zone of life and death that seeks its parallel in love.
So in order to take pleasure in "For Eternal Hearts" the most important question is whether you can appreciate the atmosphere or not. However, in my book the
atmosphere in fact stands as the film's greatest achievement and works as a common thread. At first, the atmosphere impresses with a feeling of nostalgia -
days long gone and the experience of first love. But soon everything becomes rather odd. This impression intensifies at the latest when we visit Su-ji's house.
The dimly lit rooms, the strange furniture or the garden which make the house look like being part of another world - all of this takes us into a misty world
full of mysteries and melancholy, an impression also supported by a unobtrusive soundtrack. The many questions that arise are also the reason why you never
feel bored, despite a slow pacing.
Fortunately, not everything in this mystery romance feels odd. This is mainly the effort of Jeong Kyeong-ho ("Manhole",
"Running Turtle") who gives the story a necessary point of reference and even creates something like the film's foundation.
"For Eternal Hearts" is a piece of work that easily could have become emotionally detached, but even the supporting actors, like Jeong Jin-yeong
("Gangnam Blues") and Kim Gyoo-ri ("Poongsan"), manage to avoid this. Sadly, Cha Soo-yeon
("Beautiful") seems rather shallow in her role. To be honest, the actual love story between Su-ji and Su-yeong is everything
but convincing, though, a knock-out criterion for any romantic flick, of course.
So, while I gladly refute the negative aspects critics point out I have to clearly state that a lot of the story gets lost, because the romance between the two protagonists doesn't work. You can't actually call it a pure love story as there is in fact not a single moment during which the spark ignites between the two on screen. The atmosphere manages to make us overlook a lot, though, and the constant menace arising from possible air attacks by North Koreans also creates some uneasiness which at the same time is supposed to make us realize our mortality. Yet, director Hwang Kyoo-deok doesn't take the easy road simply making his dense atmosphere work for him. He has also written quite a decent story, too.
In fact, there are a few surprising twists, of which some maybe aren't that surprising at all if you follow the hints scattered throughout the movie. Not everything might match up a hundred percent, but the story still manages to surprise. Unfortunately, the big minus of a romantic story incorporated badly can't be sugarcoated, but "For Eternal Hearts" certainly isn't a bad genre mix. As already said, the movie succeeds in displaying its very own kind of on-screen magic, if you are willing to succumb to the charme of its very special atmosphere. Wandering between reality and fantasy, constantly lingering at the border of a twilight zone, which also shows parallels to poetry (not for nothing Rainer Maria Rilke is quoted on several occasions) this movie with its unusual mood managed to positively surprise me. If there just wasn't a love story designed so heavy-handedly...