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Tune in for Love - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Yoo-yeol-eui um-ak-ael-beom

South Korea 2019

Romance, Drama

Jeong Ji-woo

Kim Go-eun
Jung Hae-in
Park Hae-joon
Kim Gook-hee
Jung Yoo-jin
Choi Joon-young

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Tune in for Love

Tune in for Love - Film Screenshot 1

Story: It's the year 1994 and Mi-soo (Kim Go-eun) works at a small bakery owned by her friend Eun-ja (Kim Gook-hee). One day, Hyeon-woo (Jung Hae-in) enters the bakery and wants to buy something with tofu. Since this is very important to him Mi-soo assumes the reason being the custom to eat tofu after being released from prison in order to cleanse yourself from all sins. He eventually asks if he can work at the bakery and Eun-ja agrees. It turns out that he in fact was in a juvenile detention center, but for what he is not willing to tell. When his (former) friends turn up, he goes out with them for a drink. Mi-soo has the feeling that he won't come back and her assumption proves to be right. Three years later they meet again by accident. Mi-soo has a job at a newspaper and the two want to talk a bit about the past. However, Hyeon-woo has to start his military service for two years. Mi-soo makes an e-mail account for him and wants to write him every day. After they said their goodbyes the girl realizes that she forgot to write down the password for the account. Therefore, she tries to give him a hint in a radio show he listened to in prison three years ago. But to no avail. Another three years pass until Hyeon-woo finally gets in touch with her via e-mail. Will the two finally get together this time?

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Tune in for Love - Film Screenshot 4

Review: It's not clear what criteria there are for Netflix to add Asian movies to their catalogue. However, this picture arouses curiosity particularly because of its female lead Kim Go-eun. Yet, the movie's title doesn't really promise anything out of the ordinary. And that's exactly what we get in the end. "Tune in for Love" is an alarmingly unspectacular romantic flick that rides the 90s nostalgia wave. This wave has been kicked off by "Architecture 101" and has been continued even years later with movies like "Unforgettable". Both of them haven't been incredibly good, but here we get a movie which is lengthier and more mediocre by a lot. In its core, the movie is about love as the two lovers never seem to get the timing right. Oddly, what the movie hardly revolves around is the radio program the title hints at.

Tune in for Love - Film Screenshot 5

The introduction is rather slow, but for a neat drama or a romantic flick you need a good foundation after all. Nevertheless, the pacing doesn't really pick up as the movie progresses. The relationship grows very slowly and there are constantly chance happenings that seem very unnatural. This is even apparent in the beginning, when the change of a radio DJ is the sign for Hyeon-woo which he was looking for for a very long time. Ok, granted, you may excuse such things in a picture like this, since in the end, it completely builds its premise on conincidences, which is also mirrored in the fact that the two lovers run into each other by accident again and again, over a period that spans many years. The attraction of this kind of love is of course that external circumstances resp. timing are never right for this love to blossom. With a premise like that you can certainly win over some viewers who have had similar experiences.

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And in fact, the movie doesn't seem to be aimed at a young audience, even though both actors - no matter, how many years pass by - look pretty young themselves. With the 90s in the center it's most certainly viewers in their thirties at best who are addressed. For them there are also a few songs added which are played on several occasions and are supposed to arouse a feeling of nostalgia. But then the question arises why Netflix thinks that an international audience will be able to relate to those ballads. It's rather that those songs create a sort of culture shock. Anyway, naturally there are also a few technical pecularities that lead to some problems in contacting someone, problems which would be unthinkable these days. Still, when taking a closer look there are constantly obstacles in the path of the couple, also of the interpersonal kind, which seem pretty man-made and could have been solved quite easily. But of course you have to put a good deal of drama in here somewhere.

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One example for that is the reason Hyeon-woo went to prison. It doesn't take long for us to get an idea about it, but his girlfriend doesn't know about it. Why he doesn't want to tell her isn't really comprehensible. And that she eventually gets to know about it shouldn't surprise anyone either. How Hyeon-woo deals with that fact isn't understandable, though, and points in the direction of an awkwardly written screenplay, which desperately wanted to create some sort of conflict. But what actually happens in the end? Everything turns out the way we have seen one time too many. Naturally, this also includes a scene in which one of the two... no, both of them actually, only at different points in time, runs back into the arms of the other one. I certainly do not watch too many romantic movies and if I do it's preferably those that count among the better ones. But even for me this is a cliché which has been used way too often for us to take the romantic story serious.

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Jung Hae-in delivers a neat performance as a quiet guy with a dark secret (?) in his past, but it's actually Kim Go-eun ("Coin Locker Girl") who stands in the center of the movie and carries the picture on her shoulders. The chemistry between the two protagonists is at least alright and the constant getting closer just to drift apart again has its appeal. But in the end we are constantly waiting for something special to happen which we haven't already seen a hundred times before in similar movies. The only interesting thing coming to mind is maybe the hand-drawn introduction after every leap in time, but even that is something we have seen before. Accordingly, it's difficult to recommend the movie to anyone except 90s enthusiasts. Technically, everything is decent, maybe also interesting is that the movie is never overly bright, wanting to create a good mood, but it also isn't tragical or moving us to tears. Everything remains rather lengthy and unoriginal. Therefore, it's a better choice to watch some of the aforementioned movies instead of this one.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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