×

I Wish I Had a Wife

If further proof were needed after her eye-opening turn as the sexy, duplicitous wife in "Happy End," South Korean actress Jeon Do-yeon proves her star caliber in the very different "I Wish I Had a Wife," a decidedly offbeat, romantic comedy-drama that follows a shy bank cashier and a fey, slightly spacey teacher.

With:
With: Seol Kyeong-gyu, Jeon Do-yeon, Jin Hee-kyung.

If further proof were needed after her eye-opening turn as the sexy, duplicitous wife in “Happy End,” South Korean actress Jeon Do-yeon proves her star caliber in the very different “I Wish I Had a Wife,” a decidedly offbeat, romantic comedy-drama that follows a shy bank cashier and a fey, slightly spacey teacher. Though Park Heung-shik’s first feature demands a certain acquaintance with, and tolerance of, Korean meller conventions, the film’s assured tone and likable perfs by Jeon and actor Seol Kyeong-gyu make this worthy of play at broad-minded fests and in film weeks, with cable sales down the line.

The movie reps an interesting pairing between Jeon, who’s become one of the hottest (and choosiest) actresses in Korean cinema on the strength of her personality rather than looks, and Seol, who gained major coverage from his lead role in “Peppermint Candy.” Released in January, “Wife” performed very solidly but was not a runaway hit, no doubt due to the fact that its two-hour running time goes for a slow burn rather than playing to the gallery.

There is, in fact, almost no plot in the conventional sense. Instead, pic eases the viewer into its two protagonists’ quirks and emotional hang-ups until, by the end, one just aches for the two to work it out. Jeon plays Jung Won-ju, initially in specs and ponytail, who’s a dreamer; Seol plays Kim Bong-soo, a bank cashier who’s looking for a wife but mistakes an on-off relationship with an old school friend (sad and sexy Jin Hee-kyung) for the real thing.

As Jung and Kim keep bumping into each other, an attraction slowly grows, almost without their realizing it. Separately, they confess their love to the bank’s security cameras, and only after Kim accidentally sees Jung’s confession — some 90 minutes into the movie — does he set out to determinedly court her. Adopting a more mature look hereon, with her hair down, Jung cautiously edges toward a more permanent relationship with him, with irony rampant on both sides up to the final reel.

Shot and played with great finesse, pic mitigates its lack of incident with exceptional playing by the two leads and a strong sense of knowing exactly where it’s going from the start. Aside from Jin as Kim’s sculptress friend, there are almost no other roles of importance — but it really doesn’t matter. Tech credits are top class. Original English title was “I Wish I Had a Wife Too.”

I Wish I Had a Wife

South Korea

Production: A Cinema Service release of a Sidus production, in association with iPictures and Terra Source Venture Capital Co., with participation of Cinema Service, Cowell Investment Capital Co. and Intz.com. (International sales: Cinema Service, Seoul.) Produced by Kim Sun-ah. Executive producer, Cha Seung-jae. Directed by Park Heung-shik. Screenplay, Park, Choi Eun-yeong, Jang Hak-gyo.

Crew: Camera (color), Jo Yeong-gyu; editor, Kim Hyun; music, Jo Sung-woo; art director, Park Il-hyun; sound (Dolby Digital), Yu Dae-hyun, Oh Weon-chul. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 14, 2001. Running time: 123 MIN.

With: With: Seol Kyeong-gyu, Jeon Do-yeon, Jin Hee-kyung.

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content