Review: ‘Madeleine’

A meet-cute date movie that plays like a primer to the well-established Korean genre, "Madeleine" lacks a distinctive taste of its own to propel it to any prominence. Well-lensed but only okay-scripted tale of two school friends who re-meet in their mid-20s and embark on a tentative romance ends up more as "My Sassy Girl Lite" than an involving pic on its own terms. Local B.O. earlier this year was mild, and offshore chances look similar.

A meet-cute date movie that plays like a primer to the well-established Korean genre, “Madeleine” lacks a distinctive taste of its own to propel it to any prominence. Well-lensed but only okay-scripted tale of two school friends who re-meet in their mid-20s and embark on a tentative romance ends up more as “My Sassy Girl Lite” than an involving pic on its own terms. Local B.O. earlier this year was mild, and offshore chances look similar.

Easygoing, wannabe writer Kang Ji-seok (Jo In-seong) bumps into former junior high school chum Lee Heui-jin (Shin Min-ah) outside her hairdressing salon one evening, and she persuades him to try an “arranged romance” for a month, with “100% honesty,” to see if any sparks fly. Problems start when another old schoolmate, grrrl rocker Hong Seong-hae (Park Jeong-ah), resurfaces from their circle and Heui-jin starts getting jealous. Shin, who played Icy Jade in “Volcano High,” is not especially likable as the pushy Heui-jin, and pic’s second half fails to develop the opening premise in any original way. Jo and Park, however, are fine as the other protags, and sophomore helmer K.C. Park (“Soul Guardians”) directs smoothly.

Madeleine

South Korea

Production

A Cinema Service release of an iPictures/Muhan Investment presentation of a Free Cinema production, in association with Sidus HQ. (International sales: Cinema Service, Seoul.) Produced by Seo Woo-shik. Executive producer, Choi Jae-weon. Directed by K.C. Park (Park Gwang-chun).

Crew

Screenplay, Seol Jun-seok. Camera (color, widescreen), Kim Yeong-cheol; editors, Park Gok-ji, Jeong Jin-heui; music, Michael Staudacher; art director, Lee Mi-ji; costumes, Kim Yu-bin. Reviewed on videocassette, London, Apr. 25, 2003. Original title: Madeullen. Running time: 115 min.

With

Jo In-seong, Shin Min-ah, Park Jeong-ah, Kang Rae-yeong, Kim Su-ro, Kim Seong-hun, Choi Gyu-hwan, Yu Ji-ah.
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