Director: Seok-Hoon Lee
Starring: Bong Tae-gyu, Sa Hee, Ryeowon Jung
Two Faces of my Girlfriend follows Guchang (Bong Tae-gyu); he’s a virgin, a perennial college student, and freeloading on his divorced sister. When a chance encounter with the cute and bubbly Ah-ni (Jung Ryu-won) gives him hope to finally find love, he goes after her wholeheartedly. Things seem to be going well until he meets Ha-ni, the chain-smoking, hard drinking, kick ass other personality that lies beneath the surface. With his life in danger because of how much Ha-ni hates him, will Guchang find the strength to keep on after Ah-ni? Or will his sweet girlfriend’s ‘other half’ finish him off first?
The strength of all romantic comedies lies in the chemistry between the two leads. I am happy to report that this film has it. Guchang is so pathetic but a generally good guy that you can’t but help rooting for him. Bong does a good job with both the physical humor and jokes creating for a pretty well developed lead character. The fact that he is an unconventional looking lead (ie. Not handsome) actually made you root for him more. Jung is great as Ah-ni/Ha-ni. She definitely feels like two different people and her ability to juggle the humor and pathos of her character’s confusion is both charming and heartbreaking at the same time.
Supporting characters are good, with Guchang’s friends and family providing solidly, funny interactions and moments. Production wise the film is cleanly directed with numerous camera techniques and film references which give for a broadly humorous aesthetic but not really challenging. For a genre of this type, it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect a game changer. The music was actually quite good, with a good theme song and the piano/orchestral based melodies throughout. The inclusion of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s ‘Alone Again,’ a personal favorite, was an unexpected but welcome discovery as well.
The film does a good job of keeping the humor throughout the film, there are many in the genre which quickly trade the comedy in for the drama in the final act. This does it to a degree, but there are jokes peppered amidst the more dramatic moments. This method of dealing with the heavy handedness of many Korean romantic comedies is always welcome by me and I always wonder why it is not used more often. The film ends in a generally predictable way, but it is still satisfying for the audience and earned by the characters.
In the end, Two Faces of My Girlfriend is a solid if bit derivative story helped by good production and casting. It is genuinely funny and among the better romantic comedies to come out of Korean cinema in the last few years. While not a film that will make it on a ‘must see’ list, it is definitely worth your time for a diversion or to catch with a loved one. It’s a safe and generally non threatening film, but it should put a smile on your face by the end of the credits. Recommended.
You may enjoy the film if you liked: My Sassy Girl, Cyborg She, and My Scary Girl