Friday, July 6, 2012

SECRET LOVE, Korean soap, screens free at Tribeca, via The Korean Cultural Service and the New York Asian Film Festival 2012

Soapy? Gheesh! You could suffocate in the suds rising from SECRET LOVE (Bimilae). But you'd be going in style -- Korean style, with all the elegant trappings of entitlement and wealth that just (might) make the trip worthwhile. Most enticing, however are the two leads, playing three roles-- we're talking twins here: Bette Davis would have undergone transgendering to get a crack at this dual role-- a Korean actor and actress who are walking/talking sex objects non-pareil. They're gorgeous, they smile a lot and then they cry, but it's when they disrobe -- in the car, in the bathtub -- and fuck like bunnies that the movie is at its silliest, sleaziest, and (oh, yes) its hottest.

In addition to the style provided by the accouter-ments (gorgeous clothes, cars, sets and decor), writer/director Ryu Hoon-i, whose first film this is, also provides style (and a tad too much of it) in the film-making -- what with non-stop flashbacks, flash-forwards, fantasies and fancy editing galore. Enough already. But, no: You ain't seen nuttin' yet! Coincidence abounds. The over-heard and overseen stuff parading here would make Downton Abbey blush. Sex as a cure for the common coma is also introduced, both with the comatose patient himself, and via his ready and randy twin. Either way: what fun!

As to those two stars... In the role of the twin brothers, Jin-woo and Jin-ho (to be referred to from now on as Woo and Ho), rangy, sexy, charismatic actor Yu Ji-tae (above and below, left) proves a walking/talking/fucking fantasy. Whether he's being uber-charming, as he wins a free toothpaste contest or carries a wounded camper (penultimate photo) on his back, or as he tearfully apologizes for being a naughty bro (final photo), whatever, this guy is aces. And since he is not responsible for the ridiculous story and plotting, we can ignore those and concentrate on him.

As his paramour Yeon-yi, Yun Jin-seo (above right, and below in bridal attire) matches her co-star point for point: She's sweet when she smiles, sad when she cries, and hot as hell when she's horny. What more could a guy ask of his gal? Or a moviegoer of a star in a "camp fest" like this one?

Now, poor Yeon-yi is never told by either bro -- not the one that rescues her, nor the other who woos and weds her, that he has a twin. Yet after she learns this, she still appears awfully slow in understanding what's going on. But again, chalk this up to the filmmaker and not to the poor, put-upon actress.

There's a subplot involving Yeon-yi's mom's attempt to bed the parish priest; clearly this girl comes from a transgressive family! While the film grows darker as it ambles along (at 112 minutes, it's short for most Korean movies but still padded by about a quarter-hour), it becomes not one whit more believable. Its final question -- Can our heroine master the art of sex with a paraplegic? -- goes unasked but not un-suggested. If the answer is yes, I see a sequel in store. Meanwhile, if you have a taste for this kind of camp, go see Secret Love and snicker, chortle, holler and hoot to your heart's content. (This is definitely a movie to view in a crowded auditorium.)

The film, a co-presentation of The Korean Cultural Service and the New York Asian Film Festival 2012, makes its international premiere this coming Tuesday evening, July 10, at New York's Tribeca Cinema at 7pm. The film will be shown in Korean with English subtitles. Admission is free, so arrive early. Doors open at 6:30 and it's first-come, first-served.

No comments: