April Snow

April Snow


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It's not only Buddhists who mistrust emotions. It's anyone over the age of twenty five. Haunted by the song lyric 'Only fools falls in love', a rational attitude to personal relationships puts romantics in their place. Everyone carries baggage. To deny this invites delusion and heartache.

Hur Jin-ho's exquisitely sensitive film explores the dilemma of betrayal and resurrection. It is painlessly slow and as delicate as a teardrop. Although you know from the outset what will happen, you cannot reach deep enough into the motivations of the protagonists to second-guess the outcome. A smile, even the hint of a smile, speaks volumes, which is helpful as there is precious little dialogue.

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A car crash exposes the infidelity of In-su's wife and Seo-young's husband, both of whom lie in hospital in a coma. Coming to terms with the double shock of critical injuries and a secret liaison brings In-su and Seo-young together, at first reluctantly and later with restrained passion. Taken out of context, such a romance sounds suitably convenient and totally unlikely and yet, with the help of his actors, Hur avoids sentimentality with a conviction that holds firm until the very last moment.

The success of the film is dependant upon the subtlety of the script and the richness of the performances. Neither disappoints. Bae Yong - jun is absurdly good looking, which makes you wonder what In-su's wife was doing having an illicit affair. As an actor, he has the ability to convey feelings with a particular stillness.

Son Ye-jin has a harder task, because Seo-young closes off completely when she discovers the truth of her husband's infidelity. As is nature's way with depression, she becomes unavailable and unattractive. Her reconnection with life is like the blooming of a flower. Beauty emerges from the grave of her despair, resurrected in hope.

Where the film rises above simplistic love stories is through its insecurity and truth, involving guilt, loyalty, past emotional ties and the impossibility of wiping the slate clean and starting afresh. What they have is what they are. What will be and what was is unpredictable. Their baggage contains unresolved issues and feelings. Love requires certainty.

After the crash, will anything ever be the same?

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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Slow musings on betrayal and redemption.

Director: Hur Jin-ho

Writer: Hur Jin-ho, Lee Won-sik, Seo You-min, Shin Joon-ho

Starring: Bae Yong-jun, Son Ye-jin, Lim Sang-hyo, Kim Kwang-il

Year: 2005

Runtime: 105 minutes

Country: South Korea


EIFF 2006

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