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September 22, 2009

My Beautiful Days

my beautiful days 1.jpg

Im Jong-jae - 2002
YA Entertainment Region 1 DVD

Not a whole lot happens in My Beautiful Days. That could be why the film ultimately charmed me. There are a few dramatic moments, but the film is like a quiet pause for the most part, like the life of Joon, the main character, who is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. The original title refers to Joon's age. He is currently marking time by doing by doing his mandatory military service as a security officer at a government building. Joon's schedule is loose enough that he also works part-time at a laundry run by a man also named Joon. Other than showing up at work, Joon's existence is aimless.

Joon is conducting an affair with an older married woman, Mi-yeong, begins tentatively to pursue a former girlfriend, Eun-ji, after meeting her by chance, and attempts to pursue Eun-ji's younger sister, Hyun-ji. Joon is so uncertain about himself that his own feelings about the women are unclear. If Joon's feelings for Hyun are the strongest, it may be because she challenges Joon by virtually taking command of the time they spend together, watching a Bruce Lee movie, or running against each other. The one time Joon acts with real deliberation is on behalf of his boss, the laundry owner, bringing out the older man's passion for art that had been dormant for many years.

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Joon has a recurring dream about a deer showing up at night at the parking lot of the office building where he works. The origin of the dream is in a story handed down by senior guards to their juniors, as one young man leaves, another tells the story, prefacing it with the disclaimer that the original guard, the source of the story, may not have really seen a deer. The symbolism of the dream in open to interpretation, or at least I would think that this is a deliberate choice on the part of the filmmaker. Joon is himself vague about his own direction in life that when he does finally have some sense of purpose, it come about by the actions taken by those in his life. The deer could possibly symbolize not only the elusiveness of love, but of dreams themselves.

Aside from the dream sequence, My Beautiful Days is a simple film, told without any dazzling techniques. There is nothing that I could find about Im except that this was his second film as a director. Better known are some of the cast, Bang Eun-jin who starred in the thriller 301, 302, and Kim Min-sun, who made her debut in Momento Mori. As best as I can tell, this is the only movie with the exquisitely beautiful Pyeon Eun-jeong. What happened, and why can't I find any information on her. Pyeon seems to have joined that small sorority of screen beauties that only appeared with perhaps just one role, like Sandra Majani in Patrice Leconte's Perfume of Yvonne. I'm not certain why the film was given the English title of My Beautiful Days, although the change from 24 was done to avoid confusion with the television series. Perhaps because the film just glides along without much demonstration of effort, there is a sense of satisfaction at the end of the film, similar to Joon's as he bicycles alone on the night time street.

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Posted by peter at September 22, 2009 12:08 AM