‘Dating’ explores limit of dysfunctional love
The title says it all. “The Unbearable Lightness of Dating,” a new film directed by Kim Hae-gon, explains the title for 125 giddy minutes.
But at the same time, the film warns that such insignificance in social interactions can leave you with deep wounds that may never heal.
“I wanted to make a film about a sad parting, not about a beautiful love story,” the director said of the film at a press conference last week.
His film does not revolve around a romantic pair of lovers who quietly shed tears in the wake of a parting. They get drunk, curse at each other and get into violent fights.
“It’s probably because my life has been a rugged, bumpy one that the characters also came out looking a bit crude,” Mr. Kim said, shrugging. “Honestly, I did not want to wrap anything into a pretty lie. I wanted to show what’s real.”
So that’s what happened to the sexy barmaid Yeon-a (played by Jang Jin-young) and the son of a diner proprietor, Yeong-un (Kim Seung-woo), who begin dating with a playful start. They seem to be enjoying a risky game as they get drunk and party every night; that leads to flinging fists at each other at times. They yell and scream at each other that they were never meant to be together, but find themselves lying in bed again the next morning. They know they are in some sort of love ― although they deny that they are.
Yeong-un repeatedly tells Yeon-a that he has a longtime girlfriend whom his mother thinks is decent, and that he plans to marry her. Yeon-a casually retorts that she does not care “as long as you keep dating me” even after he ties the knot with someone else.
“Of course I will keep seeing you. You know you are the one I really like,” the irresolute man replies.
Yeon-a is portrayed, personal morality aside, as a delightfully carefree woman throughout the film. But even she crumbles under Yeong-un’s abrupt decision to break things off after his marriage. She wails in front of his mother, begging for her son’s return; she does not eat and depends on alcohol and nicotine instead for consolation.
“I couldn’t easily understand why she had to act that way,” Jang said of her character in the movie. “I was embarrassed at times to stand in front of the camera and act like that.”
The actress, who previously specialized in roles as a strong tomboy, said she had to tour around underground bars and room salons to study how to act like a real barmaid. Apparently, her efforts paid off.
“I enjoyed reading the scenario. It was like a fun novel,” she said, explaining why she chose to be in this film. “I hope the audience feels that way as they watch this.”
The script, originally titled “The Person I Miss” when Mr. Kim first wrote it, won an award for screenwriting from the Korean Film Council eight years ago.
AM Cinema, the promoters of the film, said that with the director, they changed the title at the last minute to give a lighter feel to a story about a dating couple they considered normal and probably typical of people who think they are in love.
The director says the film is not about a modern young couple who consider dating and marriage as separate things. Although the couple can look somewhat exaggerated compared to the conventional couples appearing in other romantic films, the director says he tried to focus on expressing how any person can change and act under the influence of love.
“The Unbearable Lightness of Dating” opens Thursday.
by Lee Min-a