A Letter From Mars

"A Letter from Mars" shows signs of developing into an affecting love story in its central section, but is let down by an over-schematic third act that fails to tie together all its various strands. Despite the collaboration of experienced scripter Jang Jin, this second feature by Kim Jeong-weon won't be delivered outside Asian markets.

With:
With: Shin Ha-gyun, Kim Heui-sun, Park So-hyeon, Kim Min-jun, Kim In-gweon, Lee Jae-yeong, Lee Geum-ju, Jo Duk-hyeon, Lee Weon-jeong.

A fairly standard, slightly magical-realist Korean meller, “A Letter from Mars” shows signs of developing into an affecting love story in its central section, but is let down by an over-schematic third act that fails to tie together all its various strands. Despite the collaboration of experienced scripter Jang Jin, this second feature by Kim Jeong-weon, who helmed the clever time-warp romancer “Ditto,” won’t be delivered outside Asian markets.

Opening two reels sketch the childhood friendship between So-heui and Seung-jae, the latter writing letters to the former’s astronomer dad after he’s “gone to Mars” (i.e. died). Grown-up Seung-jae (Shin Ha-gyun), now a village postman, re-meets So-heui (Kim Heui-sun, from “Wanee & Junha”) when she returns to spend time with her aging grandma, and later pursues her back to Seoul in hopes of proposing. With its bright, vibrant colors, pic looks terrific, but So-heui remains an uninteresting object of Seung-jae’s affection. Shin, who played the weirdo in “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” is likable as the slightly goofy, lovestruck postman, and Park So-hyeon ditto (but underused) as a rural chemist who secretly fancies him.

A Letter From Mars

South Korea

Production: A Big Blue Film/Film It Suda presentation, in association with iVision Entertainment, of a Ditto Entertainment production. (International sales: Cinema Service, Seoul.) Produced by Park Sang-gyu. Executive producer, Park Kang-gyu. Directed by Kim Jeong-gweon. Screenplay, Jang Jin, Jo Jeong-hwa.

Crew: Camera (color), Lee Suk-hyeon; editor, Goh Im-pyo; music, Lee Jae-jin; production designer, Kim Jeong-tae; costume designer, Kim Sung. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 21, 2003. Original title: Hwaseongeuro gan sanai. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Shin Ha-gyun, Kim Heui-sun, Park So-hyeon, Kim Min-jun, Kim In-gweon, Lee Jae-yeong, Lee Geum-ju, Jo Duk-hyeon, Lee Weon-jeong.

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