Director: Min Kyu-dong
Starring: Im Soo-jung, Lee Sun-kyun, Ryu Seung-ryong, Lee Kwang-soo, Lee Sung-min, Kim Do-young
After a chance meeting in Japan, Du-hyun (Lee Sun-kyun), an architect, falls hard for Jung-in (Lim Soo-jung), a student and chef. They date and eventually marry in what could be a typical romantic comedy’s plot elsewhere. Fast forward 7 years and marital life is NOT blissful for Du-hyun. Jung-in has gone from quiet and charming to outspoken and clingy. The timid Du-hyun desperately wants out of the marriage, but his instinct of self preservation overrides any impulse to ask for a divorce. When he gets a position that requires him to work away from home, he is at first ecstatic at the distance, but to his horror, Jung-in makes the journey to be with him. At his wit’s end, Du-hyun finds that his new neighbor Sung-ki (Ryu Seung-ryong) is a modern day Casanova. Tapping him for help, Du-hyun asks Sung-ki to seduce his wife in the hopes that he can get a divorce from her side. Things seem to be going well, with Sung-ki able to penetrate Jung-in rough exterior and become her friend, but a change comes over Jung-in that reminds Du-hyun of the girl he fell in love with. As Du-hyun starts to rethink the agreement, Sung-ki reveals that he is himself interested in Jung-in. With the characters in place, who will the wife choose, and how will she react when she hears about the agreement between the two men in her life?
The real star of the film is Lim as Jung-in. She is able to make a loud, opinionated, and hyper critical character very likable. Her strong outward persona hides a very vulnerable and real human character with worries and emotions. Having been a fan of her turn in the seminal Tale of Two Sisters, I hadn’t seen much of her work in recent years, but this was a great way to rediscover her talent. Lee Sun-kyun is good as the timid and desperate husband, Du-hyun. He is neurotic, exhausted, and towards the end of the film very humanly distraught. Having liked his work in TV, this was my first film with him in it and I look forward to seeing a more manic character than the ones he typically plays on the small screen. Ryu Seung-ryong is terrific as the womanizing Sung-ki. Although he doesn’t seem like what a modern day Korean Casanova would look like, he is well cast as the charming, soulful, and slightly vulnerable expert on women.
Director Min Kyu-dong does a good job with getting solid performances from his actors. Having adapted the screenplay as well, he seems to know exactly what he wanted out of a scene. There are both dynamic camera moves and long shots that are well edited to create the scene, whether comedic or dramatic. Artistically, I found it interesting that despite how ‘Western’ the storyline may seem on paper, there is an undeniable Korean element to how the film plays out.
The dual settings of Seoul and Pyongchang, the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics, really show a love of both urban and rural Korea. In terms of production, the film is well made. Large sets and many locales show a decent amount of scratch went into making the film. Music is good and the theme song is genuinely catchy and one I hummed for a bit as I was writing this review.
A remake of the well regarded, but little seen Argentinean film, “Un Novio Para Mi Mujer,” All About My Wife features some of the most well known names working in Korean film and television. A big hit in Korea at its theatrical bow, it is on pace to be one of the biggest home grown films of the year. It is a very funny and intriguing film about the story after the love story. With its mature, interesting characters and engaging storyline, All About My Wife is a very entertaining solid romantic/comedy/drama. While predictable, you won’t mind the ride and how its story of how people fall in and out of love.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Divorce Italian Style, Happily Ever After, Needing You