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Original Title:
Aneun yeoja

South Korea 2004

Romance, Drama, Comedy

Jang Jin

Jeong Jae-yeong
Lee Na-yeong
Kim Hye-na
Jang Yeong-Nam
Oh Seung-hyeon

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Someone Special

Story: Dong Chi-seong (Jeong Jae-yeong) gets dumped by his girlfriend. He has an identity crisis and asks himself what the meaning of true love is. That's also the time when he has to find out, that he has a terminal illness. His doctor diagnoses lung cancer and tells him that he has only 3 months left to live.
Therefore Chi-seong heads to his favourite pub and gets drunk for now. When he awakes he finds himself in a hotel room, where he was brought by barwoman Han Yi-yeon (Lee Na-yeong).
On the next day he hears in a radio show, that Yi-yeon has feelings for him. Yet, Chi-seong isn't interested in her, even though he is on search for a definition of love. From this time on he continuously slides into strange situations, philosophizes with bank robbers about love, grants a thief shelter at his home and soon finds his house entered by the police who are searching for Chi-seong now, because of an object, that the thief left there. Chi-seong has no other choice but to hide at Yi-yeon's home, who lives just a few meters away. He gets to know that she is interested in him for quite some while, but Chi-seong only asks himself how to spend his last months...

Review: "Someone Special" is a romantic comedy, which breaks with the formulaic rules and at the same time sticks to the necessary ones. The movie positively surprised me as it is original in many respects and avoids feeling cheesy. Even the drama part isn't inappropriately thrown into the movie. For a romantic drama it is also quite uncommon to hear from a deadly disease of the main character right at the beginning. Nevertheless, the movie manages despite the prevailing serious atmosphere to create some pretty awkward and most of all funny moments every now and then. The outcome is a film, that in fact can positively stand out from the rest of the genre's tearjerkers, also because of some extraordinary characters.

The viewer is told the story in form of repeatedly inserted monologues by Chi-seong. As an introverted and quite fellow he replys to his girlfriend's suggestion that they should go seperate ways from now on, with an outburst of rage, shouts at her and furiously throws leafs and branches he finds on the forest ground at her. Of course, this isn't true. The viewer finds out that he would really have liked to do so, but in reality his reply to his girlfriend is a simple "ok"!
Even when it is revealed to him, that he is going to die he just wonders about the strange black and white images (which actually are x-ray photographs) and the seemingly noticable chicken breast of his. These are the scenes when you just have to smile no matter how serious the scene is otherwise.

Naturally, Chi-seong takes his imminent death very seriously and so there is also lots of drama, which fortunately doesn't feel forced at all. Chi-seong is a strange person, who because of his fate doesn't even find any pleasure in his old hobby Baseball, anymore. Jeong Jae-yeong ("Silmido") bestows his character with a certain in-depth and even manages, despite his distance he keeps up towards other people, to let some emotions shine through.
It's interesting that Jeong of all people, who is more familiar with other genres, gives his rom-com debut here. He doesn't exactly meet the ideal image one has of a handsome guy, yet he radiates his own kind of charm. It is as Yi-yeon says in the movie, he is not very good-looking or intelligent, but very nice. Whatever she means by "nice", that's the moment when we start to believe her, that of all men she did fall in love with him. Appearantly there is something, like the lack of bad habits, that she likes about him.
Lee Na-yeong ("Please teach me English") once again plays a sometimes cranky but loveable character. Although she isn't supposed to look that good in the movie, she simply does, which makes us wonder again, why exactly she finds Chi-seong so attractive...
However, the chemistry between the two actors is very good and they don't correspond to the image of the typical Korean romance movie's lead roles, which is something refreshingly new.

At the beginning the way the movie is shot might be a little bit unnerving because of the use of an unsteady camera and fast second-jumps, but in the following course of the movie one luckily avoids using it again. A colorful Happy-Life mood as one sees in other rom-coms is nothing you should expect here. Dying and especially waiting for death as well as the question of true love are dealt with very seriously. It's also interesting that every person that Chi-seong meets has a certain contribution to add to his quest for an answer. Yet, on the other hand, this invisible bond that connects even the seemingly most unimportant character with the main protagonist feels a little bit too forced.

Besides, all the drama there are also some very awkward situations that will have you laugh out loud. A little highlight is the scene in which the two main protagonists go to the cinema. Chi-seong thereupon tells us the story of the movie which gets visualized as a movie in a movie! The film is your typical Korean rom-com, in which two lovers finally meet each other but suddenly get seperated again only to be reunited at the end in an overly dramatic way. Chi-seong even starts to get upset because this seemingly typical love story starts to make a sudden turn and becomes an action movie only to go for some tears at the end again. This criticism of director Jang Jin about the inconsistence of a lot of Korean movies and the resulting horrible genre-mixtures, leaves nothing to add. Absolutely my opinion. Thumbs up for this great interlude!
At the same time Jang raises the bar of expectations, because now we expect something special of "Someone Special"! In fact, the movie nearly perfectly combines romance, comedy and drama. Even cheesy moments are almost non-existent. Only the oftentimes played love songs in the background soil the overall picture a bit.
Furthermore, it's very nice to see that the ending is actually not the way one would have expected!

"Someone Special" is a really good movie. Unfortunately, the converging of the different side storys feels a little bit artificial and a few pacing problems are also to be found. Nevertheless, at the bottom line, there is an excellent movie that deals with a worn-out topic in a refreshingly new way.
Two exceptional characters, that the audience instantly grows fond of, add to a positive overall picture.
The symbiosis of the different genres is especially well done, which is something that nearly no one manages to do in Korea nowadays. Which is also something Jang points out with a wink in his "movie within a movie". Even those of you who aren't interested in Korean romantic comedys should risk taking a look, because "Someone Special" is full of well done small details. Moreover, the emotional scenes feel very natural and avoid being cheesy. The movie is in fact something special and only missed a better rating by inches...

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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