Throwback to 1950s romance films is a sweet surprise

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Throwback to 1950s romance films is a sweet surprise

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Gi-jun (Gong Yu), left, helps Ji-wu (Im Su-jeong), reunite with her first love. Provided by CJ Entertainment


Theater director Ji-wu’s (Im Su-jeong) ultimate fear lies in seeing a concrete end to things. Because of this, she has a few quirks. She always leaves the last chapter of books unread and doesn’t even eat the last cookie in the box, even if she is hungry.

Half-read books and uneaten cookies may come off as eccentric charm, but when this habit seeps into her love life, Ji-wu begins to see how her fear is impeding any possibility of a relationship with a man. In an effort to discover the root of the problem, she goes on a quest to reunite with her first love, Kim Jong-uk, whom she met in India 10 years earlier.

It just so happens that there is a company - run by Gi-jun (Gong Yu) - that provides such a service. While trying to find Kim, Gi-jun and Ji-wu find that their contrasting personalities are quite complimentary, and they slowly fall for each other.

In “Finding Mr. Destiny,” a generation of thirty-somethings’ memories of their first love are addressed in a fuzzy, romantic way.

The romance is pleasant and harmless, with a plot that provides few surprises and charming actors who fit in well with the candy-coated fantasy that the movie provides. The fantasy is heightened with the visual richness of scenes showing Ji-wu’s journey through India.

The actors are well-suited for this kind of material. Im Su-jeong, strikes a good balance in showing us the present Ji-wu, who regrets her past cynicism, and the optimistic, twenty-something Ji-wu, who has eyes full of love.

Meanwhile, Gong Yu succeeds in transforming his character from a somewhat goofy guy during the first part of the movie into a believable, romantic lead in the latter.

The mechanics of the plot almost reminded me of the strictly formulated romance films from the 1950s, where the scripts playfully toy with the audience using devices that keep the main characters apart but ultimately bring them together in the end.

When Ji-wu and Gi-jun’s search for the mysterious Kim faces hurdles, we secretly hope that the two main characters will see that they are, in fact, perfect for each other and will end up together in the end.

The movie handles romantic love as if it were a cute, perfectly wrapped product, and this ultimately makes it artificial and contrived.

However, the overall effect manages to be warm and gentle and I found myself smiling throughout the film.

“Finding Mr. Destiny”

Drama / Korean
Now showing


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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