INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL PREMIERE
장르만 로맨스 (Jangreuman romaenseu)
South Korea, 2021, 113’, Korean
Directed by: Cho Eun-ji
Screenplay: Kim Na-deul
Photography (color): Kim Tae-soo
Art Direction: Kim Sung-hyun
Editing: Kim Tae-gyeong
Music: Lee Dong-joon
Producers: Kim Bong-jun, Baek Geong-sook, Lee Jeong-ho
Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong (Hyun), Oh Na-ra (Mi-ae), Kim Hee-won (Soon-mo), Lee Yoo-young (neighbor), Sung Yu-bin (Seong-gyeong), Mu Jin-seong (Yu-jin)
Date of First Release in Territory: November 17th, 2021
There is a quite a complicated web of tangled relationships in Perhaps Love, but let’s start with Hyun, a celebrated novelist whose life is falling apart. Several years earlier he published a novel that made him famous and beloved by readers across Korea. But perhaps because of the added pressure that comes from fame and expectation, or perhaps because he’s losing the ability to focus, he has been unable to even properly start his next book. Enough time has passed that people are beginning to whisper. Soon-mo, who is his best friend and his publisher, is growing desperate.
But Hyun’s personal life is no less precarious. His second wife and young daughter are in the U.S., and Hyun, feeling a bit lost without them, starts to rely more and more on his ex-wife Mi-ae, with whom he has a teenage son. One day their emotions spill somewhat out of control, leading to a very awkward confrontation. But things are even more complicated than Hyun realizes, because Mi-ae and his best friend Soon-mo are secretly dating. Mi-ae and Hyun’s sensitive son Seong-gyeong, meanwhile, is more than a little freaked out by his parents’ love lives, but then he too gets to know the woman who lives next door and falls into his own sort of romantic confusion.
In some ways Perhaps Love is about human weakness. The film is filled with flawed yet sympathetic characters whose hearts pull them in all the wrong directions. Although not what you would call a romantic comedy, the tone throughout is lightly comic, and its focus is on all the confusion and heartbreak that romance can bring. There are many moments in the film that make you laugh, but we laugh as much at ourselves as at the characters in the film, because their weaknesses feel so intimate and familiar.
It’s also a film about the challenge of overcoming prejudice. One of the major plot lines involves a young writer named Yu-jin who meets Hyun by chance, and who attends one of his university courses. But one day he confesses to Hyun that he is in love with him. Hyun is not prepared for this in any way, and he reacts quite badly. Later, when he discovers that Yu-jin is a truly gifted writer, Hyun is made to confront his casual homophobia.
Director Cho Eun-ji is herself an actress who has distinguished herself over the past two decades with many acclaimed performances. For this, her directorial feature debut, she has assembled a pitch-perfect cast and crafted a film that has great comic timing and some moments of real poignancy. She clearly has talent as a director, and one hopes she will continue to pursue both acting and directing in the future.
After two long years of struggling with the pandemic, our need to laugh is perhaps greater than ever. Perhaps Love grants us this favor. But its warm, accepting worldview and its obvious affection for people, even at their weakest moments, is also something that we need much more of.
Since her acting debut in Im Sang-soo’s Tears in 2000, Cho Eun-ji has become a familiar face to fans of Korean cinema. In both leading and supporting roles she has left a strong impression in works including The President’s Last Bang, Driving with My Wife’s Lover, My Scary Girl, Forever the Moment, The Concubine, The Target, The Villainess, and Nailed. In 2016 she directed the 29-minute film 2Nights 3Days, which screened at many film festivals and won a Special Jury Award at the Mise-en-scenes Genre Film Festival. Perhaps Love is her feature directorial debut.
2021 – Perhaps Love