My Dear Enemy

"Meotjin haru", a 2009 SIFF selection from South Korea, boasts a noteworthy opening sequence: a tracking shot that pays homage to Orson Welles' "A Touch of Evil" with at least three or four separate elements woven seamlessly into the fabric of this continuous shot with no cuts or editing. It starts with a shot of a car; a woman stands outside the car smoking a cigarette and holding a lengthy conversation with a man; eventually she walks toward a large building. As she starts into the building, the camera turns its attention to a group of men who walk in front of us, heading in a different direction planning their lunch. When they make their decision, the camera changes direction again, focusing on another subject in the frame; it begins to follow a woman through some hallways and into a racetrack betting parlor. By this time I had lost track of the specifics, I was just very, very impressed...

The story is simplicity itself: An old girlfriend, unemployed and broke, shows up and demands that her former boyfriend repay an old loan. This launches the duo on a day-long trek around Seoul as he attempts to borrow enough money to settle his debt. This boyfriend starts out as a sort of bozo, he seems promiscuous and shallow. As we spend the day however, we discover hidden aspects to his personality. His glass is always half full and he is indomitably upbeat and cheerful. The jazzy score seems to reflect his happy outlook.

Eventually we come to like him more than we expect to, and realize that we have become interested in the outcome...and that's good!