Saw Late Autumn at last, after 2 years of waiting. I still remember quite vividly, the hype and buzz that it’d garnered just before it took to filming, into it, and then before it was released and screened in the US (I think, just not my country). People mounted expectations on the star-hyped film. Hyun Bin and Tang Wei, you had the best crop (considerably IMO) from both Korea and China. An intriguing story about love and connection between 2 drastically different individuals. And a well known director Kim Tae Yong to helm the production. It was quite easy to hope and expect for something stellar. Everyone was waiting to be blown away.
I’m not sure whether it did tho, because I came in relatively late into the game. The film was released like 1-2 years ago if I’m not wrong, and I was only able to find a proper DL link just a month ago. What I knew from before – Tang Wei had won numerous awards and accolades for her performance as Anna, yes even in Korea (that must mean something I thought). And Hyun Bin played a charming gigolo that’s it.
And charming he was indeed.
LA’s approach is very greyish, somber and somewhat depressing. It starts with gloom, and ends quite dispiritingly and weighty. There isn’t much light or vibrancy to the tone or mood at all. It’s very similar to the approach taken in Hyun Bin’s brillaint but underrated Friend, Our Legend. Grey skies, dark clouds, rain, desolation, you name it. So it’s totally not surprising if people find it boring and dull. For me, it was good and enjoyable (I didn’t fall asleep or anything and that’s good enough), but sadly it didn’t quite pack the right punches for me (I’ll get to that later).
Hyun Bin and Tang Wei gave very credible performances as Hoon and Anna. They injected a good amount of depth and nuance into their characters and convinced me well enough that they connected right off the bat. Hyun Bin played Hoon with suaveness and charm, and stretched it even more with underlying endearment and sensitivity. His connection with Tang Wei’s Anna was believable, delivered so convincingly that it was difficult not to love him. I loved that he was confident of himself and yet understanding enough to allow Anna to be herself with him. And I was especially appreciative of the extra mile he took just to be her company for a day. It’s an extremely sweet gesture. I don’t think Hoon’s difficult to pull off at all (it’s all done before in K-drama and most actors are capable of doing it), but not everyone is a chemistry magnet and can click with anyone. And for HB to have been able to spark that kind of chemistry with TW in the film, you have to give him major credits.
It takes 2 to tango of course, not forgetting the lovely darling Tang Wei. She was the revelation for me in this film. Anna. I loved her elusive and evasive attitude placed in guise of her insecurity and possibly her fear of the world outside. I liked that she didn’t have to say anything and I could feel her world and loneliness thru her eyes. Tang Wei has a very unique acting ability, I’m sure it’s part of her charisma too – to be able to engage with the audience with her implosive and bottled up emotions. She rarely overacts, and neither does she underacts. She’s mostly, always very engrossed in nailing the bits of nuance in her expressions. They’re always very refined and defined, it’s impossible to miss.
But there is no such thing as perfect, unfortunately. I think the film was aptly directed to suit the mood and to reflect Anna’s loneliness and her journey to seek consolation. However, in a bigger picture, it wasn’t WOW or anything, especially with the writing combined. The combo wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t up to my expectations. I felt it’d tried too hard to make us feel for both characters through their journey and companionship together (when it was mostly the actors’ performances which did the job). I also had some gripes with the pacing of the story and about how some of scenes just felt a tad disjointed. Perhaps it’s just the preconceived notion that I’d had – that it’s impossible to feel so much and so deeply for another individual in a span of 1-2 days, that understanding and connection takes time to build and forge. I guess a lot may say that it’s exactly what the film’s trying to convey. That regardless of time, space (and race), it’s merely about 2 people connecting through something that they have in common – loneliness and the yearning to have company. It makes complete sense, but I wasn’t entirely convinced. It felt forced if I may be honest. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy their journey together, it’s just that I’m not sure if I’d enjoy it as much if the characters hadn’t been portrayed by such effective actors. It (writing) was IMO, mediocre at best.
Overall, this film did what it had to do – it showed us how loneliness can be eased by just a comforting and understanding presence. Yes, there were problems with it. But there’s no denying that it was beautifully filmed and directed, and most importantly, earnestly and genuinely acted out by the actors. If there’s 1 thing to look for in this film, it’s definitely Hyun Bin and Tang Wei’s performances, and their awesome chemistry together. They’re from different countries, they speak different languages, but the barriers were almost non-existent with the considerably decent spoken English thru out. Amongst everything, just check this film out for them. You won’t be disappointed I assure you.
Last but not least, have an MV – Late Autumn sung by Tang Wei
Rating: 7/ 10
credits: as tagged / fllyfree @ Youtube