If you’re rich, you can have stale plotsFrom its title, the film “A Millionaire’s First Love” poses the ridiculous premise that somehow a story of a millionaire’s first love will be different from anyone else’s.
In the movie, at least, it is.
Jae-gyung (Played by Hyun Bin), a saucy high school drop-out who has no purpose in life than to inherit a huge sum in real estate from his wealthy grandfather, learns that his money can’t buy love.
That fact comes across as a shock to a boy who hasn’t had to worry about little things like a cash settlement for punching his classmate in the face, because he always has a personal lawyer who can run down to the police station to pay a fine.
Before he can inherit his grandfather’s bequest, however, Jae-gyung is forced to go to a tiny school in a rural village to obtain a diploma. There he meets a clever young girl who is dying from a heart disease, Eun-hwan (Lee Yeon-hee).
That’s as far as the story’s outline goes.
And as simple as its plot might sound, the story’s character development is even simpler.
He is rich. She’s poor. He’s healthy; she’s dying. He’s from the city. She’s from the countryside. The film juxtaposes classic elements of “pure” and “tainted.” In the end, of course, it’s the girl who’s dying, who’s poor, who was raised in the pure land of the countryside who converts a tainted spoiled city boy.
The film leaves a bad taste in the mouth because it doesn’t even try to add a twist of any kind. But hey, the film is a teenage fantasy. No one should expect social realism.
But considering the limits of a teenage romance starring Hyun Bin, the Korean heartthrob from the popular TV drama “My Lovely Samsoon,” the film also has its own irresistible charms.
The images in the opening credits of flashing numbers on screen as Jae-gyeong, in his loosely-worn school uniform, waits for an elevator in a decadent pose is as good a depiction as any of the budding teenage actor who is undoubtly an up-and-coming movie superstar in Korea.
Kim Tae-gyun, the film’s director, seemed to admit this when he said, “What kind of Korean film director could resist Hyun Bin?”
He was more correct than he knew ― journalists, distributors and audience members can’t resist the star, either.
The film, which opened its set to the press in December ahead of the film’s release, had one of the busiest crowds of reporters for local productions.
It drew over 400,000 viewers in theaters across the nation when it opened earlier this year. Overseas, the film was sold to a Japanese distributor for a minimum guarantee of $1.5 million, funded by a company affiliated with Digital Adventure.
In the end, that’s what a millionaire’s first love does to you ― gets you a kiss from other millionaires.
A Millionaire’s First Love
Directed by Kim Tae-gyun
Starring Hyun Bin, Lee Yeon-hee
Running time: 116 minutes
by Park Soo-mee