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Original Title:
Eorin shinbu

South Korea 2004

Romance, Comedy

Kim Ho-joon

Kim Rae-won
Mun Geun-yeong
Ahn Sun-yeong
Kim Bo-kyeong
Yun Chang
Shin Se-Kyeong
Kim In-mun
Sunwoo Eun-Sook
Kim Hye-ok

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My little Bride

Story: Park Sang-min (Kim Rae-won) returns to Korea after his long trip to America. When he arrives there are suddenly some family matters he has to take care of. The dying grandfather of Seo Bo-eun (Mun Geun-yeong) wants her to marry Sang-min. This is his dying wish, because he promised Sang-min's grandfather when they were brothers in arms that he would unite both families through a marriage one day.
With a heavy heart 15-years old Bo-eun agrees at her grandfathers deathbed to marry Sang-min. However, she isn't very happy about it, because although she is friends with Sang-min since childhood she thinks of him as a playboy and rightly so. Moreover, she is way to young to marry already! It's just good for her grandfather that she doesn't know he is only acting to be fatally ill...
Sang-min is also not very happy about the wedding, but it takes place anyway. Aside from a few people, no one knows about the marriage so that Bo-eun can continue attending school without being scoffed.
As one might have expected there are some problems starting to occur. Bo-eun doesn't accompany Sang-min on their honeymoon trip and furthermore she goes out with a famous Baseball-Star who wents to the same school. But it really starts to get complicated when Sang-min is transfered to Bo-eun's school as a teacher...

Review: If you are still here after reading the title and the plot summary then you surely have a weakness for romantic comedies. Well, I haven't, but there are a few exceptions to the rule that can convince even me that the genre has a right to exist. "My little Bride" in fact is one of those exceptions.
Kim Ho-joon manages to make use of familiar ingredients, yet succeeds in entertaining the viewer by wrapping it up in a refreshingly new story alternation. That the female lead protagonist is a little 15-year old girl causes aversion, but soon the movie will suck you in with its outstanding charm, so that this fact fades into the background. Nevertheless, this tendency to paedophilia, which was also apparent in Kim Ho-joon's following movie "Jeni, Juno", is a little bit irritating.
If you don't take the plot too serious then you'll see a pretty good romantic movie, which also works quite well as a comedy.

The movie's upsides are without a doubt to be found within the characters and the little subplots. Apart from the two main protagonists there are also several other interesting persons, who know how to get the best out of their little screen-time. Anyway, let's stick to the important persons for now. Sang-min at first seems to be an unreformable playboy, but soon we find out that he is actually a nice guy. He takes care of his new "wife", let's her have her own way and even overlooks that she sees another guy. The viewer soon becomes aware that he actually has feelings for his wife. Kim Rae-won imbues his character with life and brings everything into the on-screen relationship necessary for a good romantic movie to work. His role isn't just about looks, but also shines with an in-depth level of character.

Bo-eun deep inside her heart is still a child. Sometimes she is rebellious, frolicsome, yet at other times she nearly almost seems to be a married woman, for example when she self-confidently tells Sang-min's military superior what she is thinking of him, coming to her husband's defence. However, when arguing with her husband she is also the one who always has the last word. Mun Geun-yeong ("A Tale of Two Sisters") was only 16 when the film was shot, but she already shows what acting skills are slumbering within her. Nonetheless, there is a problem, because Mun is somewhat cute. And I mean cute in the way you would call a little child. This oftentimes opposes the romance aspect of the movie, because it makes it difficult to take Mun serious as a woman.

Apart from all the criticism, one has to emphasize that the chemistry between the two main protagonists is just outstanding. There's lots of teasing, sometimes there is a big quarrel and a few moments later the two continue playing around like two kids. Who is doing the dishes is decided by a game of rock-paper-scissors, they fight by using vegetables and concerning eating... well, there are 5-years old who don't make such a mess. Despite all their disputes (or just because of them) you really can see that they were close since childhood.
Of course, this makes also way for some pretty good jokes. Sang-min teases his wife that he is supposed to sleep in the same bed she is and Bo-eun herself in an excellent scene falls from a balcony after running around covered by a curtain only to flee the eyes of her teacher who just dropped by.
The romantic scenes are also quite well, but it's here that you can see that one seemingly always has to make use of the same old cliches. Sometime in the course of the movie Sang-min carries Bo-eun on his back, natch, and there is also an extensive karaoke scene. Even if Bo-eun is too young to drink yet, Sang-min makes up for it by drinking for two.

At least "My little Bride" doesn't make any unnecessary turn to a more melodramatic resolving at the end. The movie is thoroughly playing in a Happy-Life world and the few somewhat serious scenes seamlessly fit within the rest of the movie. A rarity.
It's also great to see that the supporting characters have been written very well, too. Bo-eun's friend who has fallen in love with the same guy as her friend, shows Bo-eun the right path concerning the feelings she undoubtedly has for her husband. She is as important for the movie as the several family members of Sang-min and Bo-eun are. The mother of Bo-eun with her remorse brings a little bit of drama into the play and female teacher Kim who throws herself at Sang-min is responsible for some nice jokes. At the bottom line you can say that the film was made with quite some eye for details.
However, at the end it gets a bit kitschy, even if just for short. Yet, you have to give the film some credit that the amount of kitsch really is delivered in doses you can live with, without causing any serious brain damage in the future.

You shouldn't be bothered by the controversal topic, because that it is all about a 15-years old is just a means to an end to throw in some alternation into the all too familiar love story. Moreover, it gives the opportunity for some (occasionally questionable) funny intimations.
"My little Bride" is no milestone of Asian cinema, but better than a lot of similar movies of the genre. A great chemistry between the two main protagonists, lots of loveable side characters and some very funny moments will let you dive into this insignificant joyful world with a smile.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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