Love Fiction ("Leobeu Pikseon")
Official Selection, Shanghai International Film Festival 2012
Joo-wol suffers from a crushing case of writer’s block. He hasn’t published in years and his second novel, appropriately entitled “Femme Fatale”, isn’t taking off. It quickly becomes evident that love, which he’s dabbled in a few times, might just be the cure to his inspiration problems. While at a film market party in Germany with his publisher, he meets the young and beautiful Hee-Jin. He’s thunderstruck, it’s love at first sight. Film importer, photography major and all-around fascinating individual, Hee-jin quickly becomes Joo-wol’s everything — and main source of inspiration for the serial he’s now writing in his publisher’s newly founded tabloid rag. Incredibly gifted with words, Joo-wol quickly wins over her heart and thus begins a rocky and inventive love story in which armpit hair and detective novels are only two of the various elements writer-director Jeon Kye-Soo employs for his smart and unconventional rom-com.
Much like a South Korean Woody Allen film, LOVE FICTION follows an infectiously relatable if slightly neurotic protagonist (the ever-great Ha Jung-woo, of THE CHASER and TIME) in his pursuit of happiness with the cute-as-a-button Hee-Jin (the phenomenally talented Kong Hyo-jin of 2008’s CRUSH AND BLUSH, thankfully free of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliché here, instead a refreshingly three-dimensional love interest). Cynical, playful and all-around hilarious, Jeon Kye-soo directs inventively and proves, like Allen, a master of the self-deprecating, reflexive voice-over, crafting a romantic comedy miles above most — while providing all the heartbreak and gooey feelings one needs from the genre. The literary dimension (which is given life on screen through Joo-wol’s detective fiction, mirroring its author’s turmoil) proves irresistible but what makes LOVE FICTION reach soaring heights remains the undeniable — and unprecedented — level of chemistry that the two leads, making their romance feel completely believable, charming and relatable. It’s a film that moves swiftly and relentlessly towards a grippingly realistic and satisfying third act, portraying a young, bubbling relationship in ways that feel neither forced nor impossible, but rather just as unpredictable as life — and fiction — itself.
LOVE FICTION is quite simply the most heartwarming, funny and engaging romantic comedy you’ll see all year, with powerhouse performances from two of South Korea’s greatest stars and an airtight script. And more importantly, you’ll want to bring your significant other. Trust us on this.
— Ariel Esteban Cayer