Couples (Korean Movie) New York Premiere

By David Yu

On July 3rd, we attended the New York premiere screening of Couples (커플즈) at Film Society of Lincoln Center and the movie was one of the many great films that got selected to showcase during New York Asian Film Festival. Life is bizarre, and in this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, Couples directed by Jeong Yong-ki aims to show exactly how bizarre it can get.

Couples is a glittering South Korean remake of Kenji Uchida’s 2005 Japanese hit “A Stranger of Mine”. It is an entertaining film that tracks various couples and their personal struggles love and destiny. Release date in South Korea  was in Nov 2011.

This specific film starts with the most unhappy man in the universe: Yoo-Suk (Kim Joo-Hyuk). He mortgaged himself to the hilt buying a posh condominium for bride-to-be Na-Ri (Lee Si-Young), only for her to vanish with nothing but a text message promising to send for her belongings. He’s hired a private eye to track her down, but his tea shop is going under, his house is a white elephant, and his heart can’t go on. Worse, he just got conned in an auto insurance scam, and a bank robbery where he was accused of sexually harassing a fellow hostage. Fortunately, pretty traffic cop Ae-Yeon (Lee Yoon-Ji) is on his side. But just when Yoo-Suk looks ready to start moving on with the right woman, Na-Ri swoops back into his life. To one’s surprise, Na-Ri’s on the run from Byung-Chan (Gong Hyung-Jin), an aging thug who just wants to stop cutting off people’s fingers and settle down. Each couple’s story is layered upon the next, it is a sound technique that works well within the overall tone and pacing of the film. After the first story line is set, this film then launches into a tapestry of narratives that are, in some way or another, linked or overlap with comical, and serendipitous consequences.

Even though Couples is not an original film made, but it is a quirky and relatively clever film that does not over complicate its message of destined and unpredictable romance. The narrative is pieced together with a palatable simplicity that you would not expect to find in such a film. Each perspective adds a welcomed and comical new dimension to the events that came before and after it. Indeed, in this NYAFF, Couples proves itself to be a gorgeous and delirious film that only South Korea can deliver it.

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