Love, loss and lucid cinematic silence
“Lost in Love” is a confession of fear, be it fear of love, of regret, of loss or of saying the wrong things out of indifference or ignorance.
The film follows the emotional paths of two college friends, Yeon-su and Woo-jae, over their 10 years of friendship.
Yeon-su (Song Yun-a) has long had a crush on Woo-jae (Seol Gyeong-gu), an athlete on the school crew team. But she’s not bold enough to say it, and he’s not attentive enough to sense it.
She instead chooses a safer route by trying to create seeming coincidences that might give her an opportunity to move the relationship forward.
For instance, when the last bus to Seoul is about to leave the terminal during her visit to his military base, she intentionally waits in the bathroom for the bus to leave, hoping it will give her a natural excuse to spend a night with Woo-jae.
He doesn’t get it, though: He yells out to her from the waiting room and holds onto the bus driver to keep him from leaving. She gives up. And on her way back home, she takes his picture from her pocket and throws it away.
In a way, the film depicts the artful timing every relationship needs for love.
Years pass. She is a divorced veterinatian in a small neighborhood clinic. He is a high-school crew coach. The two meet again, this time actually by coincidence, in a police station. This time, he’s onto her, but soon he steps backs. By the time he decides to make a real effort to win her over, however, she’s already decided to put it past her. Their minds wander between regret and hesitation at different moments, like the film’s random scenes of bus terminals where the couple sometimes exchange light words of greeting, and other times, a great sense of loss and pain about their unspoken feelings.
Their shifting emotions get across well in the film through little words they say.
The first thing Woo-jae says after he spends the night with Yeon-su is, “I’m sorry,” but it sounds less like regret and more like fear.
Near the end, the misunderstandings between Yeon-su and Woo-jae become almost too hard to watch.
After the death of Yeon-su’s mother, Woo-jae tries to ask her something important. Perhaps he wants to ask her to start over in their relationship. Yeon-su, however, doesn’t want to hear it. She says, “I know. Let’s not say it.”
But she obviously doesn’t know. As she leaves, Woo-jae says to himself, “How could it end before it even begins?”
The beauty of the movie is its restraint, the things that are not said. Luckily, the two actors do a fine job filling the gaps in dialogue.
The chemistry between the two is overwhelmingly rich (one has to think twice about the rumor that Song and Seol are a real-life couple).
In the end, the film is a poignant description of our fears of “Losing Love” (the film’s title in Korean) and the bitter resentment that stays with us when we suddenly realize one day that we’ve missed something that can never be revived.
Lost In Love
Directed by Chu Chang-min
Starring Seol Gyeong-gu, Song Yun-a
Running time: 118 minutes
by Park Soo-mee