My Little Bride Review
Sang-min (Kim Rae-won) is an undergraduate student who has returned home after a year studying abroad. A young and handsome fellow with no troubles in the world, he soon finds his life turned upside down when he’s reunited with childhood friend Bo-eun (Moon Geun-young) – a sixteen year old girl who is now attending her first year in high school. Sang-min learns that his grandfather (Kim In-mun) is sick but when he pays visit he’s asked an unusual favour. His grandfather, believing himself as not having much time left to live, wishes for Sang-min to marry Bo-eun. Initially shocked by this the pair blows off his request, but they’re eventually talked around into going ahead with the crazy idea. Once married, Sang-min and Bo-eun try to live their lives as normal as possible; Bo-eun takes a liking to the popular school team baseball player, dismissing her marriage as being one of temporary convenience, while Sang-min tries to carry on with his art classes in the hopes of landing a nice gig. As luck would have it he ends up getting an internship at Bo-eun’s school, but it’s here that he must deal with her homeroom teacher - the crazy Miss Kim (Ahn Sun-yeong) who can’t stop lusting after him - and his young wife who is simply learning how to grow up, whilst rumours persist around the school and friends become distant figures.
Korean Rom-Coms/Dramas are a dime a dozen these days, which is why my decisions are relatively easy to make in trying to keep up with what South Korea has to offer amidst such a healthy but regurgitative output of romantic comedies and horror features; my enthusiasm having waned a great deal over the years due to their sheer lack of originality. The problem I find - and I’m sure I may have touched upon this before - is that there just doesn’t seem to be any new way to tell a story anymore, but it’s that very uncaring and almost cold approach which has allowed the genre to continue booming back home. Audiences are simply suckers for these films (some with sequels); even if they’ve seen the same story play out a hundred times over they love the clichéd approach of matching two unlikely souls together and seeing them through many hardships.
This brings me to My Little Bride. As far as South Korean romantic comedies go Kim Ho-jun’s debut outing does very little to set itself apart from what audiences are already well accustomed to. It travels a predictable path in which a couple go through a familiar chain of events consisting of several ups and downs, before they reunite after a rather syrupy exchange of words - to much rejoicing. But that matters little here, because My Little Bride is a surprisingly warm and often sweet film that doesn’t pander too much to its audience. While it’s certainly minimalist in approach, offering nothing flashy whatsoever, or showing any sense of personal style from director Ho-jun, he does at least have the good foresight to set its tone just about perfectly. Kim Ho-jun at the very least shows that he has a good feel for the script and the varying emotions which pour out of it, and he strikes a remarkably good balance between comedy, romance and drama, without ever allowing the film to become bogged down by over the top melodramatics or exploitation – the latter being that the subject makes for an easy and obvious target. My Little Bride isn’t a hilarious product, but it’s consistently amusing and does allow for one or two laugh out moments, while the story itself unfolds in a reasonably low-key manner as it delves deeper into the lives of these two people who are simply trying to live a normal existence outside of their pre-arranged marriage - which neither seems to truly want. This double life of theirs, then, naturally allows for plenty of awkwardness and inner searching as relationships open up and twists begin to intercept the tale. Granted, it’s a little long at two hours in reaching its final destination, but it’s confident and engaging enough for us not to check our watches at regular intervals.
Ultimately, what helps My Little Bride a great deal is the central casting of Kim Rae-won and Moon Geun-young as the newly weds. Both actors manage portray their characters with sincerity; their childhood friendship is made believable, while their chagrin at being thrust into such an uncomfortable situation is equally played with perfect understanding. The age gap means that the storyline can deal with the usual plot devices, and it’s with Geun-young’s character that we’re taken into a tale of adolescence as she reaches maturity and wants to explore her feelings and sexuality for the first time: Bo-eun’s crush on the popular school boy setting up a huge problem later on. Meanwhile Sang-min is inadvertently drawn toward Bo-eun at almost every turn, to the point he even earns a gig at her school, in her very classroom. It’s a rather convenient set-up, as are most of the little plot surprises here and there, but it’s one that’s made the most of thanks to the performers’ natural approach to the subject matter as they strike a nice balance in displaying both their immature and grown up sensibilities.
YA Entertainment is a company located in the U.S. which puts out predominantly South Korean films and television series on DVD. This is our first look at what they have to offer.
My Little Bride is presented anamorphically with a ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is non-progressive, thus exhibiting interlacing which is naturally the first major hurdle. Then we have a liberal amount of edge enhancement, slight softness, boosted contrast levels and high saturation in certain areas, whereby skin tones especially lack a natural vibe and reds for example can become over pronounced. Considering the way in which a lot of Korean films are presented on DVD this isn’t a huge surprise, but despite this the overall image isn’t too shabby and the authoring is free from compression artefacts.
Audio options consist of Korean DD2.0 and 5.1 DTS. My Little Bride is not a film that really requires a DTS track as it’s a rather simple and talky effort which only needs to put across its dialogue well. It does so here efficiently with a clean track, but there are indeed moments in which the 5.1 offering comes into its own, mainly during one or two musical outbursts which take place at karaoke and bar settings. It can be a little too aggressive as most of the film is rather subdued by comparison, but it’s well handled overall and doesn’t have any defects.
Optional English subtitles are included and they offer a fine translation which is free from any errors.
We have four TV spots ranging from 15 to 60 seconds in length, as well as a teaser and a theatrical trailer. These are viewed in succession as one piece. Interviews & “Making Of” is the largest feature here, starting off with brief actor interviews in which they talk about their hopes for the film, prior to and post shoot. It then moves on to the usual behind the scenes material which covers several scenes. Moving on we have Deleted Scenes, which are fun little clips, some being extensions of ones already seen in the film and finally there’s a Music Video featuring Moon Geun-young singing badly as part of her Karaoke scene.
My Little Bride is a fun little film; it’s not particularly demanding and it’s fun where it counts. Certainly it’s one of the better efforts of recent years, so if you are indeed into your romantic comedies then you wouldn’t go far wrong with this pleasant offering.
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