When romance meets camera tricksIn the movie “When Romance Meets Destiny,” Il-woong, an “experienced” buddy of the film’s two main heroes, shyly admits that most men are looking for two kinds of women ― those they can love below their belly button and those they can love above it.
Indeed in this romantic comedy about the male psyche, Kim Hyun-seok divides the male gender into two categories ― those who seek romance with a sense of purity and those who seek it in lust.
The film concerns two brothers who are polar opposites. The first part tells the story of Gwang-sik (Kim Ju-hyeok), a studio photographer who is too shy and timid to confess his feelings to a woman he’s had a crush on for nearly seven years.
The dictionary of romance for his younger brother, Gwang-tae (Bong Tae-gyu), on the other hand, begins with sex and ends with sex.
Both fail, however, when it comes to women whom they believe are the destined loves.
The mind moves too quickly in one man; it goes too slowly in another.
The divide seems unnatural.
The film’s original catch line, which lured women with the promise that it would give them an inside look at the way men conduct themselves in romance, was far off the mark. Nevertheless, the film’s imagery, which never stops being playful with camera movements, leave little chance for the audience to get bored.
For example, a scene in which the camera shows a close-up of the faces of the two brothers on a see-saw, one after the another, provides a delightful metaphor for balance, which the two men essentially lack in their attitudes to romance.
In one way, “When Romance Meets Destiny” reflects an undeniably Korean sentiment.
That becomes evident when Yun-gyeong (Lee Yo-won), the girl of Gwang-sik’s dreams since he was a college sophomore, leaves him for another man, saying “a woman can’t react on assumptions,” and blaming his passive attitude.
That aside, almost every adult Korean who grew up in the ’80s probably has embarrassed themselves on at least one occasion by trying to sing a sentimental ballad in a karaoke parlor in front of their would-be lovers, hoping the songs aroused some unearthed affection. In the film, whenever Gwang-sik tries to sing a sad song about a man’s secret love to a girl he has a crush on, he’s interrupted by unforeseen events. But as Yun-gyeong said, Destiny is never fixed. It includes various coincidences in life, even “a slip of fate.”
The film also illustrates the cultural trend of romance.
For some reason, whoever played guitar the best at college summer camps in Korea was the most popular among the girls ― “Those were the times,” the film says.
The film’s special edition includes a cute compilation providing an “A to Z” guide for male romance. What it contains is rather stale, but it gives a look into the psychology of some adult Korean men who still have some growing to do.
When Romance Meets Destiny
Directed by Kim Hyeon-sik
Starring Kim Ju-hyeok, Bong Tae-gyu
Running time: 104 minutes
by Park Soo-mee