Review: ‘Secret Love’

For those who can abandon logic and go with the flow, 2010 South Korean production "Secret Love" may possess a certain cockeyed grace and sensual charm, thanks in large part to its actors.

For those who can abandon logic and go with the flow, 2010 South Korean production “Secret Love” may possess a certain cockeyed grace and sensual charm, thanks in large part to its actors. But others might feel cheated by the lack of consistent sense in this tale of a woman, Yeon-i (Yoon Jin-seo), whose husband, Jin-woo (Yoo Ji-tae), has fallen into a coma, leaving her in a state of half-mourning. Enter hubby’s unsuspecting identical twin, Jin-ho (Yoo again), who himself recently emerged from a coma; from there, Ryu Hoon-i’s melodrama shifts from portrait of grief to labyrinthine erotic thriller.

In the film’s initial stages, Yeon-i’s languid existence seems leached of animation or color, shot in beige half-tones. But when Jin-ho appears, lethargy and ennui give way to chaos and ambiguity. Once Jin-woo awakens from his coma (right after his brother has screwed his wife, natch), it’s virtually impossible to tell at any given moment which twin is courting, stalking or making love to Yeon-i, particularly when it’s revealed that the twins switched identities earlier, in scenes glimpsed in flashback. Yoon and Yoo previously appeared in Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy.”

Secret Love

South Korea

Production

A Hancomm, Cinergy release of a Konan Pictures production. Produced by Choi Jae-ho. Directed by Ryu Hoon-i. Screenplay, Kwon Ji-yeon, Ryu.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Kim Hyung-koo; editor, Kim Kyung-jin; music, Lee Jae-jin. Reviewed at New York Asian Film Festival, July 10, 2012. Running time: 111 MIN.

With

Yoon Jin-seo, Yoo Ji-tae.
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