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April Snow

The well of sentimental loneliness is running dry for Hur Jin-ho, whose third and latest star-crossed romance "April Snow" crosses the line from tasteful restraint to outright dull. As steady walkouts at one Toronto press screening testified, this is not destined to be the director's offshore arthouse breakthrough.

With:
With: Bae Yong-Joon, Son Ya-jin, Lim Sang-hyo, Chun Kook-huan.

The well of sentimental loneliness is running dry for Hur Jin-ho, whose third and latest star-crossed romance “April Snow” crosses the line from tasteful restraint to outright dull. Not-brief-enough encounter between two delicate souls brought together when their cheating spouses suffer a near-fatal car crash will disappoint fans of the Korean helmer’s similar, less-soporific exercises, “One Fine Spring Day” and “Christmas in August.” High expectations and popular leads should initially serve the pic well in select Asian territories. But as steady walkouts at one Toronto press screening testified, this is not destined to be the director’s offshore arthouse breakthrough.

Lighting director In-su (Bae Yong-joon of “Untold Scandal”) is setting up a stadium concert when he’s informed his wife has been hospitalized a couple hours away. Supposedly on a business trip, she was seriously injured in a car wreck with a companion who — after a little investigation on In-su’s part — looks to have been her secret lover for years.

This is also unpleasant news to the man’s wife, Seo-young (Son Ye-jin, “Classic”). Housed in the same hotel, both awaiting the fates of their comatose spouses, the two cuckolds gradually develop a pained emotional, then physical intimacy.

They’re both such shy, low-key, nonverbal types, however, that some viewers may find themselves in sympathy with the comatose mates who had to cheat to get a little excitement. One exchange is perhaps more unkindly revealing than intended: “When you do feel happy?” “When I sleep.” “Me too.”

Indeed, the urge to sleep is contagious. Very little happens as the protags go for long walks, stare pensively into space, and generally stiffen upper lips for the sacrificial long-haul.

Presentation is rotely pro, with clean but uninspired lensing and a score of watered-down Satie-style piano noodling adding to the pervasive air of glacial soap opera.

April Snow

South Korea

Production: A ShowEast Co. presentation of a Blue Storm production. Produced by Kang Bong-rae. Executive producers, Kim Dong-joo, Bae Yong-kook. Directed by Hur Jin-ho. Screenplay, Shin Joon-ho, Lee Won-sik, Seo You-min, Lee il, Hur Jin-ho.

Crew: Camera (color), Lee Mo-gae; editor, Lee Eun-soo; music, Cho Sung-woo; production designer, Park Sang-hun; costume designer, Kim Hee-ju; sound (Dolby Digital), Lee Byung-ha. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentation) (Also in San Sebastian Film Festival.), Sept. 13, 2005. Running time: 105 MIN.

With: With: Bae Yong-Joon, Son Ya-jin, Lim Sang-hyo, Chun Kook-huan.

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