You know, I always wonder. How does Lee Min Ki do it? How does he manage to click with every single co-star he acts with? Young, old, noonas or whatnot, how does he make it work?!? Is he some divine creature from MARS or something? In that he’s just able to CLICK with literally everything and anything through virtual telepathic powers or some invisible signal? I mean, even life-less objects (point in case, a guitar in SUFBB) and the intangible/untouchable are not spared. He’s weird, but I love him.
And Son Ye Jin, it’s a known that she’s a gorgeous creature. Always so goddess-like and ethereal-divine looking that no guy can’t possibly not fall for her. Emanating an angelic naivete that no sane person can possibly find annoying. That even I myself, a girl, love her immensely.
So when these 2 come together, IMAGINE the bulkload of prettiness. And the potential for electrifying chemistry.
And you bet, I wasn’t disappointed.
Chilling Romance tells of the love story between 2 individuals who cannot be more different: Jo Goo (Lee Min Ki), a self-assured and confident magician who has the magical world in his hands; and Yeo Ri (Son Ye Jin), his low-esteemed assistant who essentially is the epitome of a socially inept being. They rarely cross each others’ paths, in spite of the 1-year they’ve spent together as colleagues. Jo Goo performs his magic while Yeo Ri assists him by portraying the ghastly figure in his show. Show finishes, they say their hi and byes. And they split ways. Nothing more. Not until Jo Goo realizes one day that how much Yeo Ri is being a downer and annoyance when they always go for celebrations and parties and all she does is says no and gives lame excuses. It’s totally fine being a recluse or anti-social, but it gets overly annoying and unbearable to him when her excuses are recycled all over and over again. Why is she being so averse to the public and the crowd? Especially when someone like Lee Min Ki’s doing the invite, I’d pounce and prance on him in a go. OK?
The thing is, Yeo Ri isn’t just an ordinary girl. And not in the ordinary meaning of ordinary. She’s a spooky girl. A really spooky one. She can see ghosts, she attracts them, and worse, if that’s not scary enough, she lives with one. One that follows her everywhere, monitors her daily life, knows her in and out. One that goes all out to ruin her relationships with the world outside. Bogged down by this unwelcome presence in her life, she sinks deeper into isolation and recluse. She tries to avoid being in contact with people as much as possible, for the fear that her “friend” might haunt her so called friends and affinities. She tries to adapt to loneliness. And pretends to be happy being all alone by herself when in reality, it sux and hurts so much not to have someone by her side. Her family, her friends…etc. None.
And then Jo Goo intrudes upon her life. He cares for her, makes her smile and helps her out. Yeo Ri is more than moved, and both of them want something more than just friendship. But question is, does he gave the guts? And is she willing to see him take the risk?
The stills and posters of the film will probably mislead you to think film’s all about romance, with a dash of funny horror and spookiness (like Hello Ghost starring Cha Tae Hyun). But stay on, it’s really more than that. And deeper than that. The premise is quite a weird one, in that it’s not for one to classify this film under one strict category. The film has romance, funny, horror and drama. But to say it’s purely anyone of them, you’ve got a major problem here, it’s not that simple and cut-out.
The relationship and Jo Goo and Yeo Rim is pretty much the conventional and typical kind of guy-girl relationship we’re used to seeing. He’s the suave and confident one, she’s the passive and awkwardly shy one. You’d probably have figured out the math and physics by now, that they both end up falling for each other… the same ol’ formula. But what works differently in this film is the driving factor and the hindrances to their relationship. The fears that both individuals face in deciding to get together. The obstacles they have to face. The consequences they have to suffer and bear.
I like that the film deals with the internal conflicts of both individuals, and engages us on their journey to open up to each other a little more. Yeo Rim has major issues with her life, issues that she has to live with for as long as she lives. Jo Goo on the other hand, takes things easy and for granted that when he’s suddenly thrown into a state of fear, he’s confused. Of course, without the spooky and horror parts, nothing would have been a problem to them. But with these elements in the way, it paves way for us audience to actually think about how insecurities and fear can actually cause one to hold back in love. The film doesn’t go all out in subtleties, in that it never tries too hard to impress upon us that fear can indeed be overcome with love and all (it can I believe, but not all the time). But instead, it touches on the surface of how love can be weak sometimes. And that it’s okay to admit it.
It’s easy to notice that the writers had intended this film to be a film with an own flavor of its kind. Like I said earlier, the combination of the different elements in this film is a unique one. One moment I’m laughing my ass out over a cheeky joke, the next I’m covering my eyes from a shit scary scene, and next again, I’m bawling my eyes out over a terribly tear-jerking moving scene. You don’t get a lot of movies like these, it’s just that different. I’ve got to credit the writer and PD for being able to mesh up these elements without creating a sense of disjoint in the scenes. I won’t say it’s brilliantly executed, but it’s got a great touch. With lovely cinematography and visuals, coupled with a soothing and endearing tone (save for the horror parts), you have an aesthetically beautiful film in your hands.
But amongst everything, it’s the actors which make the film for me. Lee Min Ki has always been good looking to me, but he’s especially dashing and handsome in this I had to stop some scenes twice or thrice just so stare at his beautiful face. Every single gesture, expression and mannerism of his, I almost couldn’t find anything to nit-pick on. He’s so PERFECT! (okay, excuse my gushing, I just cannot help it! XD) But that’s just an appetizing treat, because what comes after is even better. His ability to channel Jo Goo’s character so convincingly and naturally is a testament to the comfort and ease he has with his role. Jo Goo’s suaveness, quirkiness and endearing personality, they’re all so genuinely conveyed thru LMK’s acting. The life and charm he brings to Jo Goo, coupled with the delicate and intricate touches on Jo Goo’s sensitivity he effectively conveys, it’s a wonderful treat. He’s such an effective actor that I don’t think any role would be a problem for him. He can be anyone and any character, and we’d love him just as much.
Son Ye Jin is equally on par. I love Yeo Rim’s innate shyness and impassiveness, and I adore the underlying sweetness in her character. I think the actress benefits from a generally angelic face, there is no way one could possibly hate her!!! But it’s her performance which makes a difference. Her delicate and endearing touch on Yeo Rim, a reminiscent of Eun Oh in Alone in Love less the spunk, is enjoyable to watch. And beautiful to see and experience with. She doesn’t try hard at all, as if it’s second nature to her. And makes the character her own. Though I think she’s been typecast to play such characters these years, but there’s no denying it’s her forte, and she does it incredibly well. When she breaks down in tears and cries with all her heart, there is no way you can escape without streaming some tears down your cheeks.
Chemistry wise, LMK and SYJ’s is off the charts. They have incredibly spazzworthy chemistry together. WORD. Lee Min Ki is always good with noonas, I have no explanation as to why. Apart from the fact that he’s not from Earth? From Dal Ja’s Spring to A Good Day To Have An Affair, he’s been with all types of women you name it he’s got them! o_0 I mean it in a good way because again, it’s not something that every actor can do. I certainly didn’t feel this sort of chemistry in Personal Taste with Lee Min Ho and SYJ (not everyone’s a Kim Bum), but in here, LMK just rolls on with SYJ smoothly. Sparks are everywhere. I even want them in a drama together now STAT!
The film isn’t billed as a hit or anything, or as I recall, it did just decent enough in the cinemas? It’s not stellar or even great script-wise, and doesn’t bank on depth or nuance at all. But I think it’s a film worth checking out for the viewing experiencing, eye-candy and the performance of the actors. I’m sure the masses will love this film for its creativity and originality in its execution. If you want a mix of everything, and ain’t afraid of scary shit horror (trust me, you want to believe me), this film might be the one for you.
And if that’s not enough to convince you, think LEE MIN KI and SON YE JIN.