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Sweet and Sour Film Review

★★★ Stars

Directed by: #LeeKaeByeok

Written by: #SeongDaSom

 
Three people stand in the middle of the image, a man in the direct middle with a woman on each side of him. One woman is standing with a vibrant purple and pink background lighting while the other stands with a warm, brown-toned lighted setting.

“Faced with real-world opportunities and challenges, a couple endures the highs and lows of trying to make a long-distance relationship survive.”


I would introduce this film further and in a bit more depth, but I genuinely don’t have the capacity to do so without just explaining the entire plot… I’ll keep as much under wraps as possible. Sweet and Sour is labelled as a romantic comedy and, while there is some laughs to be had, it feels much like an ‘anti-romantic’ type of film. Sweet and Sour brings a primary focus on the struggles of relationships and commitments rather than the honeymoon period in partnerships. This is me warning you now – if want to watch something more lighthearted and tender but still staying within the ‘K-drama’ genre, I’d recommend watching content like the show Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo instead.


It is difficult to navigate a solid opinion on Sweet and Sour as, not unlike its contrasting title, the plot weaves in and out of love and loss. This could have been an amazing concept if the climax was portrayed in a better sense but, because of the twisting plot from start to finish, there doesn’t seem to be a valid conclusion or point of meaning that the film is trying to make. It’s disappointing really, to see a story with so much potential be ultimately struck down by moments of inconsistencies. There are many lines said to which I thought ‘finally, we are getting somewhere with an agreeable ending’ however, minutes after this build up, it is knocked down with yet another piece of instability. I enjoyed Sweet and Sour in its entirety despite these flaws but the flaws are so vast that my enjoyment cannot overcome my frustration.


Falling into my annoyance with the layout of the plot, the characters follow with this and become almost detestable fairly quickly. Even the individuals who you are rooting for you eventually begin to dislike towards the ending. It’s a different stance for a film to take, having such a range of characters that make you... well... simply hate the world for a while, but when there is only one character left for you to adore fully it becomes strenuous to finish the journey with any of them. Was the meaning of the film embedded within these unfavourable characters? That is highly possible. Nonetheless, this point doesn’t take away from the fact that viewers struggle to create a relationship with the characters firsthand.


Regardless of how the characters have been presented in writing, the acting is really great. Some individuals have the typical K-drama spin on their characters where their movements, expressions and words are a bit more exaggerative compared to others. Jang KiYong (JangHyuk) and Chae SooBin (DaEun) work brilliantly together, mixing each other’s emotions to give the audience an immerse look into their feelings for one another – both their positive and negative views of each other throughout. Also, Sweet and Sour feels quite homely at times to those who are interested in Korean cinema, as well as K-pop, with names like Hwang JungMin (Save the Green Planet!, The Housemaid, Cart) and Krystal Jung (widely known for her position in the K-pop girl group f(x)) amongst the incredibly talented cast members. The acting seen in this film on a larger perspective is very smooth and natural, helping the plot to gain at least some sense of direction.

With its wide camera angles and good use of lighting in settings, Sweet and Sour is visually appealing. Unfortunately, its downfall is the writing and planning of how the concept should move forward. Since the story itself has been adapted from the novel Initiation Love written by Kurumi Inui, I’m intrigued to read it now and I encourage you to do the same if you find yourself interested in the specifics of the story like myself. Sweet and Sour (now streaming on Netflix) gives a harsh glimpse into what the reality of relationships can be and does a good job of making you question your experience with trust, but it’s always nice to have a reality check every once and a while - right?

 

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