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Original Title:
Sarangttawin piryoeopseo

South Korea 2006

Drama, Romance

Lee Cheol-ha

Kim Ju-hyuk
Moon Geun-yeong
Jin Ku
Lee Gi-yeong
Choi Sung-ho
Cho Jae-yoon
Kang Cheol-gyu
Jo Sang-geon
Kim Nam-gyu
Lee Seo-bin
To Ji-Won
Seo Hyun-jin

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Love Me Not

Story: Julian (Kim Ju-hyuk) is a playboy and a con man. He squeezes money out of women wherever he can and his victims are even happy about it. However, this doesn't always work out well and so he ends up in prison some day. After serving a small sentence he gets out again and his buddy Micky (Jin Ku) is already waiting for him in order to plan a new coup as soon as possible. To make things worse Julian has to hit it big this time as debt collector Kwang-su (Lee Gi-yeong) is demanding 2,5 million dollar from him within a month, otherwise Julian wouldn't have to live that long, anymore. But luckily one of Julian's "buddies", who already had to leave his parental home in his childhood days, just died. That's a good thing for Julian, because his buddy's father also died a few days prior and leaves an enormous fortune behind, which is why Julian introduces himself as the long lost millionaire's son. But first he has to deal with his new sister Min (Moon Geun-yeong) who has lost all will to live because of her blindness and several strokes of fate she had to suffer. Julian, who actually planned to kill the girl in order to be the sole heir of the fortune, suddenly becomes her protector...

Review: "Love Me Not" isn't really one of your standard Korean romantic dramas, and yet there are enough clichés to be found here and there that it could fit into that category easily. The reason why this isn't the case, nonetheless, is that the characters can never win over the viewer's sympathy as they are too much loaden with bad character traits, which in some respects may make them look more human, but which also leads to the dilemma that they can never carry the commencing romantic story on their shoulders in a convincing fashion. It's difficult to be interested in the relationship of two antagonist, and that's just what we are treated with here. Nevertheless, the film thankfully avoids some typical clichés, only to make use of them in a more subtle manner at other times. Moreover, the impressive cinematography makes you hope for a movie that finally introduces some fresh ideas to the genre, but in this respect "Love Me Not" proves to be a disappointment.

Still, the cinematography deserves some special words of praise. Kang Chang-bae simply delivers great, mesemerizing pictures. They all look very polished and slick, the colors are especially accentuated as the film is for most part presented in greyish colors which makes the red of Min's clothes and her umbrella stand out especially strong. The images also look that exeptionally beautiful because the sets of the movie include luxurious mansions with odd architecture, clubs for the more fastidious clientele and ultramodern buildings. You really get the feeling to be living in the world of a millionaire. Furthermore, you get to see beautiful snowy landscapes or interesting interior designs, so that you can't even take your eyes of the screen for a second. The two actors are also captured in the best possible light. This makes it easier to forgive the oftentimes emotional emptiness in "Love Me Not".

But what's the origin of this emptiness? Of course it's the fact that the two main characters are everything but sympathetic figures. Julian is a con man who wraps women around his finger in no time and he also doesn't seem to refrain from killing Min in order to get his hands on her money. But as it is with dramas this doesn't prove to be that easy since Julian suddenly seems to have a heart, starting to slowly develop feelings for the millionaire's daughter. However, this picture of him isn't congruent with the one that is drawn of him in the beginning, especially since it's not that easy to forget that he actually had planned to kill the girl!
Min on the other hand is even worse at times. She is spoiled, but frustrated by herself and the world in general, wallows in self-pity and looks everything but mature. At first, she is even plain annoying, so that you can't imagine her and Julian actually engaging into a romantic relationship.

In fact, this romantic relationship doesn't work out the way it was intended. Moon Geun-yeong ("A Tale of Two Sisters", "Innocent Steps") still resembles a child and awakens men's protective instinct, even though as an actress she deliberately tries to be cast into more mature roles. Actually, "Love Me Not" could have become a better movie, if the brotherly love had been put into the film's focus, but a stroll to a lake at night along with fireflies etc. leave no doubt that this is a romantic relationship. Still, the viewer can never get close to the characters and thus can never really get emotionally involved in the numerous happenings. However, you have to be thankful to director Lee Cheol-ha, gaining his first experience in the business with music videos for stars like BOA, that he doesn't present us with a kitsch-loaden ending whereas the whole con is exposed under a lot of tears.

It isn't to the movie's benefit that there are often some logical mistakes to be made out and that some of the characters, most of all the debt collector, tend to turn up out of nowhere as in a comic book. Sometimes there are also some slightly odd scenes that have found their way into the movie, and moreover, it is up to the audience to answer if it really was such an original idea to give one of the characters a brain tumor. Anyway, all of this wouldn't be that bad if "Love Me Not" could manage to emotionally involve, but especially those scenes which are aiming for exactly that make us realize how much of a distance there really is between us and the characters. Therefore, this romantic drama emotional-wise simply proves to be too cold in order to move us, while the pictures thanks to their fine look, sometimes remembering us of "A Bittersweet Life", promised something more outstanding which can't be delivered, in the end. Nonetheless, "Love Me Not" qualifies as a nice evening filler, just don't expect to be in need of handkerchiefs...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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