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Original Title:
Weding deureseu

South Korea 2009

Genre:
Drama

Director:
Kwon Hyeong-jin

Cast:
Song Yoon-ah
Kim Hyang-ki
Jeon Mi-seon
Kim Myeong-gook
Kim Yeo-jin
Kim Ye-ryeong
Lee Ki-woo
Min Ah-ryeong
Chae Sang-woo
Ji Woo
Lee Seung-yeon



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Wedding Dress

Story: Go-eun (Song Yoon-ah) is a designer for wedding dresses and a single mother. After her husband has died she tries to take care of her daughter So-ra (Kim Hyang-ki) on her own, but she seldomly is at home and So-ra spends a lot of her time at her aunt Ji-hye's (Jeon Mi-seon) home. However, suddenly Go-eun is attending more to So-ra and she tries to catch up on the time she could have spent with her all up until now. The reason for that is that she has cancer and doesn't have much time left. Not even her family knows about that yet, but with time So-ra finds out about the disease as well and the daughter is therefore at pains to fufill her mother's wishes. She goes to ballet lessons and also tries to make up with her friend at school. The little girl has quite a few bad habits, because her mother never really looked after her but this changes now and the relationship between mother and daughter starts to blossom. Still, they haven't much time left together...

Review: Actually, it isn't fair to review a drama like this after having seen numerous of the same kind. Because whereas you might have found the first ones you saw to be tearmoving or entertaining, leading you to give them a positive rating, things are a bit different now. If you had seen dramas before that you would have noticed sooner that its actually always about the rehash of the same story. One individual gets terminally ill and the relatives have to learn how to deal with it. Of course this is sad but simply being able to wrench a few tears out of the viewer doesn't make a good movie. Actually, it's only about the things connected to it that can be different in a few ways and have an influence on how the viewer can let himself become affected by the movie when it comes to this same old premise. "Wedding Dress" is putting the relationship between mother and daughter in the center and since the daughter is just a little girl this also earns it some cuddle-bonus. It only would have gotten more manipulative if the girl itself had been the one being ill. "Wedding Dress" is simply a solid drama of which there are almost as many in Korea as there are a dime a dozen.

Director Kwon Hyeong-jin has already shot a drama called "For Horowitz" but this one was a bit more original and with the piano theme also brought some more diversion into an otherwise maybe as unspectacular script. "Wedding Dress" is simply like many other dramas. At some point mother and daughter are lying in each others' arms in an heart-wrenching manner and the audience just is left no other choice but to roll its eyes. Of course a scene like that had to be there! Do we have to shed some tears, too, because of such a scene? No, for that you have to put a bit more effort into it nowadays! Director Kwon is going down the safe road, though, where he isn't running the risk of getting off tracks or break some rules of the genre in any way. This way he supposedly isn't doing anything wrong for the wide audience and that's also the reason why films like that will still be shot in ten or twenty years. However, you can't satisfy a film critic with something like that. For that the movie lacks originality in several respects.

Song Yoon-ah ("Lost in Love", "Arang") plays the mother who has to struggle with a guilty conscience. She has always been working, has seldomly spent time with her little daughter and now she almost has no time left. She has done a few things wrong in life, but that just makes her more human. Eventually, it is easy for us to have pity on her. Nevertheless, she lacks some real human facets and Song sometimes doesn't even seem to be challenged by her role. Child actress Kim Hyang-ki, who could already move to tears in "Heart Is...", oftentimes steals the show from Song. Concerning her, however, we have to ask ourselves how mature a screenplay can depict a 8 or 9-year old girl. Children can be far ahead of their actual age, there are cases like that over and over again, no question about it, but in "Wedding Dress" the line of credibility is frequently crossed. So-ra often behaves and moves like you would expect from someone who has experienced a lot more already than what is apparently the case with her.

The character drawings aren't actually the problem, though. In fact, there are some members of the supporting cast who manage to create a certain kind of three-dimensionality despite their short time on screen. Among them are Go-eun's brother and his wife as well as her sister with whom she shares a not all too nice relationship and her charismatic co-worker. What purpose Lee Ki-woo is serving as the Taekkyeon teacher remains completely questionable, however. At least the script didn't spend even more time on him by elaborating his implied love story with the ballet dancer. Anyhow, the film could have been cut down a bit. More than anything else, as it is the case with many disease-of-the-week movies, we are hoping for the suffering to come to an end at last. Does this make a good movie? That you are longing for the credits to roll? Of course, these words are a bit harsh since the movie eventually manages to move us to a small degree, but the director has to face the question why we should watch his movie out of all the hundreds of others revolving around the same subject.

"Wedding Dress" simply lacks something extraordinary. The pictures are nice, there are a lot of light-flooded interior shots and apart from that there isn't really anything to criticize in technical respects. Nonetheless, the script almost doesn't offer anything that could arouse our interest the whole running time of the film. It is enough to carry the audience through most parts of it and to make us think how tragical all of this actually is, but after the credits have rolled the movie is soon forgotten. Especially since the drama is going down a rather conciliatory road at the end trying to maintain a certain warmth. The title of the movie is also rather randomly chosen, apart from the fact that Go-eun is making a wedding dress for her daughter for when she is old enough. "Umbrella" could have been another choice as fitting. "Wedding Dress" is simply made strictly according to formula and therefore just solid stuff. No more, no less.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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