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Love Exposure
Love Exposure

Lee Mi-Yeon (left) and Lee Tae-Ran (right) in Love Exposure
  Korean: 어깨 너머의 연인
Year: 2007  
Director: E. Oni   
Writer: Ko Yoon-Hee, Kim Eun-Hye   
  Cast: Lee Mi-Yeon, Lee Tae-Ran, Kim Joon-Seong, Yoon Je-Moon, Marco, Kim Hwa-Joo, Kim Byung-Choon 
  The Skinny: This slick urban romance is backed by a rare all-female team. However, this is one “chick flick” that deserves more admiration for praise.
   
Review
by
Kevin Ma:

A rather serious examination of infidelity and modern relationships is given the slick urban romance treatment in Love Exposure, the latest from …ing director E. Oni. In a rare occurrence, the film is led by an all-female creative team, adding credibility to the process. On the other hand, it also risks being a film made strictly for the female audience because of a view on men that may be analyzed in gender film theory as the "female gaze."

To explain, classical film theory asserts that all films are made from the point of view of men, or the "male gaze." As a result, female characters are often archetypes rather than characters, and are used as objects to serve some kind of purpose in the film. The reverse happens in Love Exposure, where the male characters are tradi archetypes. For example, Hee-Soo (Lee Tae-Ran) is married to a well off but not-very-attractive husband who kisses the ground his wife walks on, while Jung-Wan (Lee Mi-Yeon) is involved with a handsome but married colleague. There's also Marco (using his own name here), the kind and handsome Korean-Italian exchange student/bartender who moonlights as a model. In other words, there is not one multi-dimensional male character in the film. On the other hand, since the film revolves around Hee-Soo and Jung-Wan's friendship, one may argue that there's no such demand for multi-dimensional male characters.

In fact, the central friendship is the only truly developed section of the film, and also creates the film's only credible conflict. Hee-Soo's marriage stalls when her husband has a clumsy affair with a young co-worker, while Jung-Wan continues her affair with a married man in an on-and-off fashion. However, that conflict only comes into play in one scene with little effect on neither the characters nor the plot. The result seems like a conflict for the sake of a conflict to make the film dramatically interesting. Nevertheless, the two Lee's have enough chemistry to make convincing enough best friends that their scenes together are among the best in the film, despite a vibe that seems obviously derived from a certain female-centered TV show about sex in a city.

Meanwhile, the screenplay seems to sputter when it goes off on its individual tangents, as very little happens in the way of plot. Hee-Soo's arc, in which she is forced to work after years of being spoiled as a rich housewife, is the more interesting plot and would make a compelling observation in contemporary upper middle-class females as its own feature film. On the other hand, so little happens in Jung-Wan's story that writers Ko Yun-Hee and Kim Eun-Hee seem to feel the need to integrate Marco into the third act in order to bring it to some kind of conclusion. In fact, Love Exposure seems to be not very sure about what conclusion it wants to make, as it ends on individual voiceovers from the two characters explaining what they respectively learned from their own plots. Oni spreads a fairly broad canvas in her observation of modern relationships, but she doesn't sufficiently express the conclusions she wants to make. In other words, it's two thesis statements without enough evidence to back them up.

It's too easy to simply dismiss Love Exposure as a Korean Sex and the City wannabe. It's a thematically serious female-oriented film (or a so-called "chick flick") made by an all-female team, an extremely rare effort in a male-dominated industry. However, it brings all-too-familiar themes at a time when slick urban romances flood the market. In Love Exposure's case, it's a female fantasy that cares to offer very little incentive for its male audience. While what's on the screen is effective and even enjoyable at points, Love Exposure's biggest crime is neither in quality nor its intended audience, but in timing. While Korea needs more female filmmakers, it doesn't need more sobering and slick urban-set films about adultery. (Kevin Ma 2008)

   
Availability:

Korea (DVD)
Region 3 NTSC
KD Media
2-Disc Limited Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / Dolby Stereo 2.0
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Various Extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

 

image courtesy of hancinema.net

   
   
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