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My Dear Enemy

(Meotjin haru)

Canadian Premiere

  • South korea 2008
  • 123 min
  • 35mm
  • Korean with English subtitles
Official Selection, Berlin International Film Festival 2009
Official Selection, Tribeca Film Festival 2009

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"Writer-director Lee Yoon-ki delivers his career-best work... beautifully played, very natural" — Derek Elley, VARIETY


Director: Lee Yoon-ki
Screenplay: Lee Yoon-ki, Park Eun-young, from Azuko Taira
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Ha Jung-woo
Producers: David Cho, Cho Kwang-hee, Oh Jung-wan
Distributor: Finecut


When one looks into a mirror, everything is reversed. If one took that idea to its extreme, Hee-su (Jeon Do-yeon) would see Byung-woon (Ha Jung-woo) as her reflection. Two people could not be more different than this pair. Hee-su is a cold, timid, serious, thrifty and ill at ease woman while Byung-woon is a warm, extroverted, irresponsible, charming man—as the myriad women pursuing him would no doubt attest. Oddly enough, the two of them used to be an item. Today, Hee-su comes back to claim $3,500 Byung-woon had borrowed from her a year earlier, the last time they had seen each other. She’s all steamed up and wants her money now. Seeing as how Byung-woon is in a financial bind, he announces the he’ll pay her back by seeking the generosity of the countless women he’s seduced—with the help of his pretty face and sweet words. So Hee-su and Byung-woon set out across Seoul to visit them one by one.

From the breathtaking long take that starts the movie, it’s immediately clear that we’re dealing with quite an unusual movie and a gifted director. MY DEAR ENEMY is a cinematographic goldmine. Straightaway, there are inevitable connections with ADRIFT IN TOKYO, a critical and popular acclaimed success at Fantasia 2008. doing for Seoul what the Japanese film did for Tokyo, except—let’s just say that one of the two cities is a fair degree more eccentric than the other (we’ll let you guess which one). MY DEAR ENEMY is a road movie that hauls us through the South Korean capital by car, bus and subway, taking care to showcase the environment in which the protagonists evolve. The cinematography, favouring wide framings, is simply beautiful and uses reflections skillfully to enrich the picture. The plot rests entirely on the two main characters—and the actor’s own roadmaps are looking bright and clear. Jeon Do-yeon already won the Intepretation Prize at Cannes for SECRET SUNSHINE and Ha Jung-woo can be seen in THE CHASER, last year’s biggest surprise success in Korea. The jazzy soundtrack adds a hint of Woody Allen and the patient, understated rythm brings to mind Jim Jarmusch, but MY DEAR ENEMY needs no such flattering comparisons. It gets where its going in its own great way.

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Jasmine Pisapia)

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