A film of small emotional moments that catches the sense of limbo before striking out on an adult career, "My Beautiful Days" has a gentle, ambulatory pace that mirrors its protag's lack of commitment without alienating the audience or degenerating into a slacker movie.

A film of small emotional moments that catches the sense of limbo before striking out on an adult career, “My Beautiful Days” has a gentle, ambulatory pace that mirrors its protag’s lack of commitment without alienating the audience or degenerating into a slacker movie. Too self-effacing to make much distribution impact outside East Asia, sophomore outing by director Im Jong-jae will make a solid addition to South Korean film weeks and foreign language webs’ acquisitions.

Jun (Kim Hyun-sung), 24, has a month to go on his reserve military duty, spent supervising a parking lot. Between working part time at a small dry cleaning business run by an old man (Myung Kye-nam), he’s getting regular workouts shagging an older, married woman (Pang Eun-jin) in a purely sexual relationship. He thinks he should really end the arrangement but, like everything else, he lets it slide.

After bumping into a former g.f., Eun-ji (Byun Eun-jeong), now working as a TV presenter, the two start a cautious friendship — nicely drawn when she awkwardly visits him one day — but that too fizzles from a lack of will on both sides. However, when Eun-ji ducks out of a date and sends her friend, Hyeon-ji (Kim Min-sun), instead, Jun finally thinks he’s found someone he actually can commit to.

Unlike Eun-ji, Hyeon-ji isn’t especially beautiful, but she’s buoyant, a strong track athlete and loves kung fu movies. The question is whether she also wants a relationship with Jun.

Shot in a controlled but not draggy way, pic centers on a small group of characters whose lives touch tangentially but never properly interact, often because of missed opportunities. Jun’s melancholy boss always wanted to be an artist but ended up with a dry-cleaning business; Eun-ji always wanted to study abroad. With no great drama, relationships slide away — and Jun finally realizes he mustn’t make the same mistake.

Despite the subject matter, film never becomes a victim of its characters’ lack of direction. Perfs are on the button, and full of small grace notes, with Kim standing out as Hyeon-ji, the only positive force in the movie.

Technical credits are well-honed, with a nice Spanish-flavored guitar score by Lee Byeong-woo.

My Beautiful Days

South Korea

Production

A Cinema Service release of a Park Chul Soo Films production. (International sales: Cinema Service, Seoul.) Produced by Park Chul-soo. Executive producer, Choi In-gi. Directed by Im Jong-jae. Screenplay, Choi Hong-seok.

Crew

Camera (color), Ham Sun-ho; editor, Park Gok-ji; music, Lee Byeong-woo; art director, Shin Bo-kyung; sound, in Dolby Digital. Reviewed at Montreal Film Festival (Cinema of Tomorrow), Aug. 31, 2001. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Kim Hyun-sung, Byun Eun-jeong, Pang Eun-jin, Myung Kye-nam, Kim Min-sun.
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