Starring: Cha Tae-hyun, Jun Ji-hyun, Kim In-mun
Director: Kwak Jae-young
Running Time: 123 mins
My Sassy Girl is a South Korean film about a young man who unexpectedly crosses paths with a bizarre young woman, and after mistakenly having to take care of her for one night, the two blossom a powerful but unorthodox relationship.
This is a fun romantic comedy, but it’s not really that funny. It’s also silly and hyperbolic, but it’s still not that nice due to the odd theme of an almost abusive relationship throughout, and although it is all meant light-heartedly (and that does ultimately shine through), this is definitely an odd one to watch.
With regards to the comedy here, it’s fine. The light atmosphere makes it an ultimately enjoyable and entertaining film, and whilst the slapstick isn’t riotously hilarious, there are some good laughs to be had throughout.
However, for Western audiences, some of the humour here is a little bit inaccessible, due to various Korean in-jokes that are quite difficult to get initially, and although you can pick it up and relate to it to some degree as you settle into the film more, those jokes (which are common) don’t pull the punches for Westerners as much as they would likely for South Koreans.
In terms of the romance, it’s a story of two halves. It starts off strange and fortunately not formulaic, however it’s just not particularly interesting, because the excessive nature of the woman’s bullying and almost abuse of her boyfriend is so unrealistic and over the top that it’s tough to really care.
However, as the romance develops into something a little more generic and emotional, it gets surprisingly more interesting, thanks to much better and more interesting writing in the latter stages, and the two fantastic central performances.
The male lead, played by Tae-hyun Cha, is a lot of fun to watch, and his rather zany behaviour but clear emotion on screen makes him very easy to support. However, it’s the female lead, played by Ji-hyun Jun, who is most impressive. Despite the fact that she plays a pretty dislikeable character who doesn’t improve for the majority of the film, making it a lot less nice than it could have been, you can clearly see that she puts her all into it, and appears to be having a lot of fun in the role, which makes it ultimately more convincing and oddly entertaining to watch.
Finally, the last act of this film is where everything turns very melodramatic, and although that’s another one of those Korean in-jokes, it’s not the best part of the film to watch. Of course, it’s still interesting to keep learning about our main characters, but the cheese levels rise too high in that final act and, by extending the runtime to over two full hours, this just overstays its welcome.
Overall, this gets a 7.2, because it’s a fun, light-hearted romp for the majority of the duration with a romance that develops well, but its strange main theme and ultimate cheese let it down in the end.