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S Diary

A tender story of love-gone-wrong belatedly becomes a revenge laff-fest in the romantic comedy "S Diary." Featuring comely actress Kim Seon-ah, pic rocketed to number one on local release late October, with 600,000 admissions in three days.

With:
With: Kim Seon-ah, Kim Su-ro, Lee Hyeon-woo, Gong Yu, Na Mun-heui, Kim Mi-gyeong, Kim Gwang-il, Jeong I-min.

A tender story of love-gone-wrong belatedly becomes a revenge laff-fest in the romantic comedy “S Diary.” Featuring comely actress Kim Seon-ah, pic rocketed to number one on local release late October, with 600,000 admissions in three days. Pic could find an audience offshore if given the chance, but is more likely to join the never-ending list of Korean candidates for Stateside remakes.

Lovelorn Ji-ni (Kim Seon-ah), who has been keeping a diary since puberty, pores over the laundry list of males from her past in an effort to discover why none of her relationships led to matrimony. First up was Gu-hyeon (TV actor Lee Hyeon-woo), a choirmaster who became a priest. Next was macho Jeong-seok (Kim Su-ro from “Volcano High”), who became a cop; and then there was Ju-in (Gong Yu, from “My Tutor Friend”), a sloppy cartoonist with a pet dog.

As Ji-ni takes the audience through the details of each relationship and the hurt she feels from each break-up — including one she initiates herself — the film feels, despite some genuine light-hearted moments, more of a meller than a romantic comedy. Oddly, Ji-ni does not go over the finer points of the most recent relationship that initiated the process.

It’s when Ji-ni decides to take her ungrateful past lovers to account that the pic morphs into a full-blown comedy. Posting invoices for all the money she spent on them, she’s greeted with derision by her former beaus. Undaunted, Ji-ni reinforces her demands for compensation with outrageous acts of personal harassment, most memorably spiking the Catholic priest’s wine with Viagra.

First-time helmer Gweon Jong-gwan does an effective job and the script never lags. Kim Seon-ah, whose previous roles have ranged from the sexy teacher in gross-out teen comedy “Wed Dreams” to a tough police commando in the futuristic “Yesterday,” is a delight as the not-too-perfect Ji-ni — Sandra Bullock springs to mind for a potential U.S. remake — and each of the three male leads is aces. All tech credits are impeccable.

The “S” of the title is never explained, though it could stand for either “Sex” or “Secret.” Sources close to the production claim it could also stand for “Seon-ah,” as helmer Gweon specifically wanted a project suitable for actress Kim Seon-ah.

S Diary

South Korea

Production: A CJ Entertainment release and presentation of an I Film production. (International sales: CJ, Seoul.). Produced by Jeong Hun-tak. Directed by Gweon Jong-gwan. Screenplay, Gweon, Park Seong-gyeong.

Crew: Camera (color), Kim Hun-gwang, Im Chan; editor, Mun In-dae; music, Pinocchio; art director, Kim Nam-gyeong. Reviewed at Tokyo Film Festival (Winds of Asia), Oct. 26, 2004. Running time: 107 MIN.

With: With: Kim Seon-ah, Kim Su-ro, Lee Hyeon-woo, Gong Yu, Na Mun-heui, Kim Mi-gyeong, Kim Gwang-il, Jeong I-min.

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