Love Now

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Pusan International Film Festival Asian Film Market

BUSAN, South Korea -- If there's one thing that Korean cinema lacks, by and large, it is sex, something "Love Now" makes a modest attempt at correcting. Infidelity can often make for the basis of engaging drama, but "Love Now" takes its sweet time getting to the heart of the matter in a story of two married couples forced to rethink their relationships.

Because sex is a sure sell almost anywhere in the world, this rambling picture of middle-class adultery and its impact could do well at home in Korea. Sales interest in other parts of Asia is a possibility, but beyond that the film will hold little appeal.

Yu-Na (Uhm Jung-Hwa) is a feisty fashion consultant married to hotelier Min-Jae (Park Yong-Woo). On the surface they seem the picture of domestic bliss, particularly when contrasted with dour company man Young-Jun (Lee Dong-Gun) and his lighting designer wife So-Yeo (Han Chae-Young). The four meet at a mutual friend's wine bar opening, and shortly thereafter two of the spouses leave town on business trips. While in Hong Kong, Min-Jae and So-Yeo realize they've met their mister or miss right. Back at home in Seoul, Yu-na and Young-Jun begin a more fiery, though initially platonic, affair that leads to the same conclusion. A reckoning transpires when the four meet again at the same wine bar.

"Love Now" attempts to address adult sexuality and how it factors into relationships in a way that straddles the line between titillation and maturity. Most of the time, however, it just feels forced. The early stages of each couple's affair is treated in such a lighthearted manner that viewers may be left to wonder why all four characters can't see the inherent problems with what they're doing. The film spends a lot of time getting (delicately) hot and heavy, and sacrifices real introspection because of it. The slightly soapy feel comes from the players' high-powered glamour jobs and the resulting bed-hopping frivolity that wouldn't be out of place in "Hotel Babylon" or "Grey's Anatomy." The same subject was handled more effectively in both "An Affair" and "Singles," where the consequences for all involved were investigated with more depth.

"Love Now" is blessed with a strong performance from Uhm, the most layered character of the four. At first a bit shrill, Uhm eases into her sexy spitfire role gradually, and by film's end, she's the one character you can feel for. Writer Kim Jin's script contains some of the more honest dialog about relations heard in Korea in some time yet suffers from too many cliched coincidences to move the plot forward in a way that seems anything other than hoary.


LOVE NOW
A Cine 2000 production
Cinema Service/CJ Entertainment
Credits:
Director: Chong Yun-Su
Screenwriter: Kim Jin
Producer: Lee Choon-Yun, Lee Mi-Young
Executive producer: Kang Woo-Suk, Kim In-Soo, Kim Joo-Sung
Director of photography: Kang Seung-Ki
Production designer: Kim Si-Yong
Music: Jung Jae-Hyung
Costume designer: Kim Seo-Hyun
Editor: Choi Min-Young\
Cast:
Yu-Na: Uhm Jung-Hwa
So-Yeo: Han Chae-Young
Min-Jae: Park Yong-Woo
Young-Jun: Lee Dong-Gun

Running time -- 116 minutes
No MPAA rating
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