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Venus and Mars - Movie Poster
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South Korea 2007

Romance, Comedy

Han Ji-Seung

Sol Kyung-gu
Kim Tae-hee
Seo Tae-hwa
Jeon Soo-kyeong
Kang Hye-ryeon
Kim Tae-wan
Lim Ha-ryong

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Venus and Mars

Story: Sang-min (Sol Kyung-gu) is a professor at an university and divorced from Ji-na (Kim Tae-hee), a glass artist, for three months now. Their relationship went to pieces because Sang-min isn't capable of apologizing and Ji-na can be very short-tempered. The university professor is missing something in his life, but despite the hints of his colleague and friend Tae-hwa (Seo Tae-hwa) he denies that his ex-wife is responsible for that feeling. Eventually he realizes that his wall clock misses a pendulum. When he broke up with Ji-na he meticulously split any possession, one of his pathological character traits. Now he wants the pendulum back and thus meets with Ji-na. The two had agreed to go their seperate ways as friends, but during their first meeting after their divorce there is already trouble in the air. Her friend Hyang-mi (Jeon Soo-kyeong) supports Ji-na in her decision not to respond to her ex-husband's absurd wish, which leads to catastrophic consequences. From that day on Sang-min and Ji-na make each other's life a living hell...

Review: Marriage isn't a stroll in the park and in many cases the selfishness of the partner can destroy the holy union. But that is nothing compared to what takes place in "Venus and Mars". The title already points out that the two protagonists couldn't be much more different, but at first there isn't much to see of that. They simply seem to have grown apart. However, as things progress a war unfolds between the two, which may work out concerning its over-the-top nature at some points, at others it just seems a bit implausible. The reason why this comedy is slightly above average lies in its surprisingly well written screenplay and a few humoristic scenes that hit the mark. The actors on the other hand are a bit of a disappointment, even though Sol Kyung-gu may have a few good moments.

Venus and Mars - Film Screenshot 11

Let's just get to the biggest problem: Kim Tae-hee ("The Restless"). She has mainly become popular because of her role in the drama series "Iris", but her acting abilities are questionable. With her huge eyes she may embody just the right kind of innocence to subsequently scare the hell out of Sang-min as the malicious and dangerous ex-wife every now and then, but for this she also needs to be capable of playing that role. You can never take her serious as the opponent of her ex-husband and this even though the screenplay has come up with some good clashes between them in this respect - but just on paper. Luckily, Kim's portrayal isn't so bad that it would destroy the whole movie.

Venus and Mars - Film Screenshot 12

On the other hand being known for his acting expertise in the right roles is Sol Kyung-gu ("The Tower", "Oasis"). Now he has the chance to prove his comedic talent. His character is a bit introverted, but then again he is burdened with some quirks that sometimes remind you of the neurotic detective "Monk". Be it a student who is the only one not sitting in the same row as everyone else and thus irritates him or the fact that he actually wanted to split everything in half for his ex-wife after their divorce - being normal is something different. In contrast to that his inability to apologize is actually not really that grave, especially not since his ex-wife demands an apology from him for the most incomprehensible reasons. It also would have been nice if the chemistry between the two main actors were right, but it isn't.

While "Venus and Mars" can score with its screenplay particularly at the end, it also features some extremely nerve-racking supporting characters, specifically Ji-na's friends at some point start to become a pain in the neck with their hyperactive nature. A few of the subplots, e.g. the one revolving around Sang-min's friend and his cow, also seem uttermost strange. Particularly at the beginning the comedy is very much over the edge, but after the (intentionally?) corny beginning you could have expected worse. Yet it remains a problem that you can never believe, but especially not from Ji-na, that the two in fact almost want to kill each other. Furthermore, one certain action scene is very problematic in which Ji-na attempts to kick her ex-husband from the road with her car. The partly computer animated and partly double-speed shot chasing scene simply looks fake.

Venus and Mars - Film Screenshot 13

Oddly, the ending is pretty well done and this even though it naturally once again takes place at an airport. Here the screenplay again shows its strength and aside from a mature ending also presents a twist typical for the genre, which yet fits in pretty well here. Maybe it's a bit exaggerated to call the screenplay good, because for this the characters lack too much extraordinariness, the supporting characters are written very bad and the movie also doesn't really feel as a whole. But the ending is putting us in a conciliatory mood and offers more than what you would expect from a genre movie like this. Nevertheless, the aforementioned problems are so numerous that you can actually only recommend "Venus and Mars" to fans of the genre.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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