2008｜123 MIN | Drama, Romance
DIRECTOR LEE Yoon-ki
CAST JEON Do-yeon, HA Jung-woo
RELEASE DATE September 25, 2008
Tel: +82 2 569 8777
Fax: +82 2 569 6662
With his fourth film, director LEE Yoon-ki found himself with a pair of stars and a bigger budget, yet My Dear Enemy remains a character-driven work with an unusual narrative, this time drawn from a story by Japanese writer TAIRA Azuko.
The story revolves around a woman who chases down an ex at a racetrack and demands that he should return the USD 3,000 that he borrowed from her a year earlier. Though put on the spot he turns on his easy charm and assures her that he’ll get her the cash by the end of the day. She tags along with him as he visits a number of women whom he uses a variety of ruses on to borrow some cash and clear his debt to her.
Largely episodic, LEE’s film focuses mostly on its two leads as they visit a number of different locations across central Seoul, from the counter-cultural hub of Itaewon to luxury high rises and then the back streets of old neighborhoods such as Jongno and Sinseol-dong. As the locations descend from the glitzy to the gritty, the relationship between the two characters evolves from the superficial to something akin to a rekindling of emotion as they learn more about each other over the course of the day’s events. Yet LEE is careful to pull the narrative back from pure romance, which affords the complex relationship more depth and nuance.
Already an established star by then, JEON Do-yeon is typically strong as a reserved woman whose outlook on the world is cynical at best as everything from her disapproving glares to hurried gait evokes bitterness, though JEON slowly pulls back her anger as she reveals more of her character towards the end. The role followed her Cannes Best Actress award-winning turn in LEE Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine (2007).
Though active for many years, notably in indie films like The Unforgiven (2005) or KIM Ki-duk’s Time (2006), HA Jung-woo exploded as a lead star in 2008, both as the heartless villain of The Chaser and here as an endlessly charismatic semi-swindler.
My Dear Enemy wound up being LEE’s biggest hit, but with just 400,000 viewers his work remains more suited to the arthouse circuit. Most of his films, this one included, have screened at the Berlin International Film Festival. LEE teamed up with JEON again for last year’s A Man and A Woman.