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Working with different writers over the years, helmer Kwon Chil-in has dished up some of the best femme-centered romantic comedies from South Korea "Loveholic," though more serious, is another quality outing.

With: Chu Ja-hyeon, Jeong Chan, Han Su-yeon, Kim Heung-su.

Working with different writers over the years, helmer Kwon Chil-in has dished up some of the best femme-centered romantic comedies from South Korea (“Singles,” “Hellcats”), providing some great showcases for the country’s actresses (such as the late, lamented Jang Jin-yeong). “Loveholic,” though more serious, is another quality outing, full of small character insights and (rare in Korean cinema) a perceptible erotic charge. More’s the pity, the pic was shot in cold-looking DV, as it cries out for the extra sheen and texture 35mm could have given it. Specialty webs offshore look likeliest.

When Gyeong-rin (Han Su-yeon) is forced to pinkslip her feisty friend Ji-heun (Chu Ja-hyeon), with whom she works at a publishing company, she lets Ji-heun stay with her and her doctor husband, Myeong-weon (Jeong Chan), until she sorts out her life. Gyeong-rin, who’s been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, starts a clandestine affair with a radiologist, Dong-ju (Kim Heung-su), at her husband’s hospital. Problem is, the two are spotted together one night by Ji-heun, and soon afterward, Ji-heun shags Myeong-weon after a long bout of drinking and confessing.

Though it tells a fairly straightforward story of boundaries crossed and secrets kept, the film is adept at showing the thin line between emotional neediness and sexual attraction, especially in the neatly calibrated relationship between Ji-heun and Myeong-weon. Though the film is far from a comedy like “Singles,” it still keeps a light touch.

Chu, who made a notable impression in 2006’s hard-knuckle crimer “Bloody Tie,” and was a strong co-lead as the elder sister in the horror drama “Missing” (2009), isn’t quite up to the challenge of a complex role like the hard-drinking Ji-heun. But she bonds well with both Han, who’s terrific as the cool, upmarket exec with buckets of suppressed carnality, and with Jeong, whose cuckolded husband grows likably from what initially seems a stuffy role. Weakest-drawn of the quartet is Kim’s studly radiologist.


South Korea

Production: An I & Cosmos production, in association with Big House Vantage Holdings. (International sales: M-Line Distribution, Seoul.) Produced by Hong Ji-yong. Directed by Kwon Chil-in. Screenplay, Kwon, Han Chang-seong, Kim Su-ah, Hong Geum-ok.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Choi Jin-woong; editor, Choi Jae-geun; music, Geo Jeong; art director, Seo Myeong-heui; sound, Kim Bong-su; assistant director, Han. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (Korean Cinema Today), Oct. 11, 2009. Running time: 117 MIN.

With: With: Chu Ja-hyeon, Jeong Chan, Han Su-yeon, Kim Heung-su.

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