Director Choi Nak-hee’s first major film “Memsore” is a film that I would have loved to love. A film with beautiful scenery, mouth-watering visuals and ear-pleasing sound -- a flick to soothe a person fed up with hectic city life with its calming lull.
Yes, it did calm me down. And it lulled me to deep sleep near the end.
This is one flick that pains me to bash, as I can clearly see the potential it had as a kind of cute, innocent and feel-good movie.
The film starts with young woman Se-hee -- played by Na Hye-mi -- trying to take her life in waters off Okinawa, Japan. But an overwhelming hunger leads her to find a tiny diner in the woods instead, where she ends up stealing food to satiate her hunger.
“Memsore” (A.K. Entertainment)
Contrary to reacting with anger, Go Ha-na -- owner of the diner, played by Choi Jung-won -- offers her a meal, a place to stay and a job, slowly leading Se-hee to open up after years of being hurt by other people.
From its premise, Im Soon-rye’s “Little Forest” comes to mind. It, too, is a film about a young woman scarred by a life of seeking sanctuary in laid-back rural life.
Yet “Memsore” is unbelievably clunky, obvious and uninspiring.
Na is an actress who has been on the verge of a big break for a long time, but her performance is terrible in this one. She acts decently in some pieces, but her range appears small, and this is definitely outside of it.
From despair to sadness and glee, she always seems like someone who has been told to act. The fleeting moments of natural acting fade quickly and the audience is left with someone who looks like she has forgotten her lines at a school play.
Choi established her career in TV dramas and, oddly enough, she looks like she is in such a drama series in this one. Her acting is so formulaic and bland that her story is thoroughly uninteresting.
As for her secret revealed near the end? I called it way before any of the telltale signs popped up.
Speaking of the writing, the script clearly had “cry here!” “be cute here!” moments that made it hard to watch.
Of course, these “healing” films do not have to go anywhere. “Little Forest” really did not go anywhere, and I absolutely adored it. Because it was adorable.
Main lady Kim Tae-ri, her chemistry with her friends, her loving but annoying aunt -- it was such a pleasure to watch you did not really need anything else. When you have good characters in a good setting, magical things happen.
That’s the biggest problem with this film. It is one of people, yet the people in it are bland and boring. It would have been much better had there been some chemistry between the two leading ladies.
To its credit, the film looked very pretty, the scenes with the dishes were good, the music was nice and there were some legitimately nice little moments that invited me to just let go of my daily tensions. They were just mucked up by everything else.
I did learn thing, though. Memsore is Okinawan for “welcome.”
The film opens Nov. 22.
By Yoon Min-sik