Story: Soo-hyeon (Kim Yun-seok) is a successful physician who one day, during an humanitarian aid operation, saves the grandchild of an
elder in Cambodia. In return, he gets a few pills of which he tries one when he is back in Korea. It turns out that these pills catapult him back in time
for exactly thirty years. There he wants to see his beloved girlfriend Yeon-ah (Chae Seo-jin) again, who soon is going to die in an accident. When he
meets his younger self (Byun Yo-han) he realizes that he can change the past. First, the younger version doesn't believe him who he is, but in the
end, he has no other choice but to face facts. Toying with time itself, Soo-hyeon changes his present in other aspects as well. Thus, he needs to
be careful to neither lose his daughter Soo-ah (Park Hye-soo) nor his friend Tae-ho (Kim Sang-ho). Moreover, it doesn't seem to be that easy to prevent
Yeon-ah from dying. Time is also running out for Soo-hyeon since he doesn't only have a limited amount of those wondrous pills, but is also in the final
stage of lung cancer. Is it even possible for him to find the perfect alternative timeline?
Review: Unfortunately, being a movie buff also goes hand in hand with the problem of already having seen most movies in one way or the
other. And it isn't any different with fantasy/sci-fi-romantic films. "Will You Be There" tries to recreate the magical feeling of
"Il Mare" and combines this with an homage to "Alice in Wonderland" since it is pills that make time traveling possible here...
Right... But apart from the alternative way of reading the movie as actually revolving around an interesting drug trip the rest proves to be rather
generic. Critics and movie-goers were probably so thrilled by this movie since it is a welcome change to all the political thrillers currently coming
out of Korea. Nevertheless, the movie clearly has its strengths, e.g. skillful directing and good performances.
Maybe the biggest problem of this romantic film is its lack of focus. Sure, in the end Soo-hyeon just wants to get back together with his past
love, but the path leading there is an unclear amalgam of back and forth since the protagonist oftentimes doesn't like the altered present and thus
attempts to create the best possible present for him through trial-and-error. Sadly, it's not possible to approach altering time in an elegant way and
the story's hero doesn't even try to do so. The result is that many threads are intertwined only loosely and that the viewer is left behind with a rather
frustrating feeling. But being responsible for that the most is probably the French novel by Guillaume Musso the movie is based on. Anyway, sci-fi-fans will
certainly have a busy time getting worked up about all the logical inconsistencies.
At least we have Kim Yun-seok ("The Priests"), who gives his role a certain density. He somewhat is supposed to have
a few humoristic moments with his younger self, portrayed by Byeon Yo-han ("Socialphobia"), too, but the chemistry
between them doesn't make it click between the two. In this respect, Kim Sang-ho ("Proof of Innocence") is doing
a finer job, especially since Ahn Se-ha, portraying the young version, manages to ooze out the same charm. But how are things looking for the love
story? It's at least not unconvincing. There are a few nice moments, just the kind of which will make some women's hearts melt, but which aren't so
corny that men will throw up their last meal. So all in all this is quite satisfying.
Actually, the subplot surrounding Soo-hyeon and his cancer is a lot better than the main plot since it is presented in a more subtle manner. The way he
and his daughter try to deal with this is believable and subtle. The story's center certainly doesn't lie here and that's also a smart decision since
we don't get any unnecessary drama at the end this way. On the other hand, you could also criticize in this respect that things are a little bit too
easily fixed, without this, as already stated, actually being achieved as the result of planful thinking. For decent entertainment this may be quite
pleasant. But as pointed out you shouldn't expect anything more and even then "Will You Be There" doesn't live up to its supposed uniqueness which it
set as a bar for itself.
However, female director Hong Ji-young, who already had her debut with "The Naked Kitchen", deserves some praise for the directing. The inventive camera work is quite appealing and the pictures look all in all very nice and are of skillful composition, which becomes particularly clear during the introduction, when we get to see Combodia. Next to that there are some nice allusions to other movies with a time traveling premise, like "Back to the Future" through a song in the radio. Still, the time-traveling plot isn't actually convincing and the movie remains a simple, albeit through nice pictures composed romantic movie. At the end you get a warm, fuzzy feeling and those looking for that are just at the right adress here. It's just that the sci-fi plot could have been made use of more effectively.