Love So Divine (Review)
Love So Divine
Ha Ji-won from Sex is Zero and Kwon Sang-woo from My Tutor Friend come together for a romantic comedy where Jesus is the third wheel in the love triangle! Unlike Ha Jiwon’s previous film we saw here, there are no abortions, thank goodness. For once the Catholic Church being against them comes to an advantage, as it doesn’t turn this comedy into a huge tearfest out of the blue. No one gets knocked up regardless. The film deals with Catholicism and priests, yet does so in a respectful way that is neither controversial nor offensive. The light-hearted tone of the movie makes the story flow better, as it wouldn’t be well received if it was set up as a depressing melodrama or a creepy “Priest becomes obsessed with some girl” movie. Ha Jiwon seems to be cranking out the Romantic Comedies lately, hopefully I can get my hands on some more of them. This movie will make you say Deo Gratias about the Korean Romantic Comedy industry, even if I didn’t like it as much as some of the others, I just wanted to work in a phrase from the movie. So, Deo Gratias you crazy diamond!
Irony in Kwon Sang-woo beat up a character who was becoming a priest in My Tutor Friend, yet here he is, in the almost priest’s shoes. He’s Seminarian Kim Kyu-shik, who is in his final few months before he is ordained. He’s friends with fellow Seminarian Shin Son-dal, who will be playing the role of the male friend who is always full of advice, a ladies man, and slightly overweight. Son-dal sneaks out at night to meet the ladies and generally makes a mess of things, while straight-laced Kyu-shik frowns his disapproval. Disaster strikes for them when Kyu-shik accidentally breaks a chalice that was blessed by the Pope. At this time it was Pope John Paul II, not the new Pope Benny 16. The pair gets sent to a church in a remote area to help out for a while as a sort of punishment.
It’s on the way to the new assignment where Kyu-shik gets his first encounter with Ha Ji-won, who wanders by and snubs out main character by throwing a dollar at him, believing him to be a vendor. At the church, we meet Father Nam and Sister Kim, who run the place. The next morning as Kyu-shik begins the chores he is assigned, he runs across Ha Jiwon lying hungover in the church pews. She wanders around half-awake, drinks some holy water, and collapses on Kyu-shik, which is when Sister Kim strolls in, getting the misunderstanding that Kyu-shik and Ji-won were making out. It turns out Ha Ji-won is Father Nam’s niece from America, who came to stay with him while she gets married. After an almost fight with three tough-talking teen girls (who we know are bad girls because they smoke, and only bad girls smoke), Kyu-shik tries to talk with Ji-won about the kiss, but ends up following her into town. She plays him off thinking he’s just another guy interested in dating her. She explains that she’s already taken, and surprises her fiancee, who thinks she’s still in the States. He’s surprised, and she’s soon crying as he backs away from his marriage plans. Now she’s stuck in Korea with no money for airfare back to the US, and has to spend time working for the church until she earns enough money to fly back.
After she’s started to be integrated into the church’s chores rotations, we get a nice scene where Ji-won is sunbathing herself while Kyu-shik has to talk with her, but he tries not to look at her. At this point they’re at the “hate each other” part of the relationship. Father Nam assigns Kyu-shik the job of trying to get Ji-won more into Christianity, as she’s never been baptized. This will force our lovers to interact together, thus forming a relationship. Simple, eh? At first, Ji-won does not take easily to the teaching, she smashes a fly with the Bible in the first lesson, and the rosary she gets ends up broken.
Later, the two and Son-dal end up at a club, where Kyu-shik is a big hit with the ladies, as they think his black robes are because he’s dressed like Keanu from The Matrix. Ji-won goes and gets drunk, and ends up insulting random tough guys who now desire to inflict physical harm upon Kyu-shik. The Seminarian rushes the ossified Ji-won out of the club and they end up hiding in a seedy hotel, the pay by the hour sort. Kyu-shik spends the rest of the night markering over the pictures of naked women tacked up upon the walls. Next morning, after some bonding between the future lovers, we see them join choir practice (and this choir needs all the help it can get) and the rest of Son-dal and Kyu-shik’s classmates drop by to help make a better choir, which will be performing at an upcoming wedding. After the wedding reception, Kyu-shik runs into a classmate that was a year ahead of him. Said classmate has since left the church and is getting married. This sends Kyu-shik into a doubt spiral, and Ha Ji-won tries to cheer him up, but soon runs across her old fiancee Jinho with a new girl, which upsets her just as much. That romance seems to have been shortlived or something, as soon Jinho is back trying to make things up with Ji-won.
Ji-won eventually agrees to be baptized, while Kyu-shik buys her some shoes, which is related to a story she told about her ex. But later we see that Ji-won is looking to return to America with her ex, while it is time for Kyu-shik to return to Seminary School. He will end up missing her baptism. On the bus ride back, he talks to one of the smoking bad girls from earlier who has been plaguing him with trouble the whole movie, and finds out Ji-won has been saying “Deo Gratias” when she sees Kyu-shik. As Kyu-shik told her earlier that it was code for saying “thank you” to God without others knowing, Kyu-shik realizes she’s grateful for him being in her life.
Now it’s Confirmation Time or Frocking Time, whatever it’s called when you get priested. I’m no Catholic, as you can probably tell. While Kyu-shik and Son-dal are undergoing confirmation, we see Ji-won at the airport with her man. Egads! She’s NOT going to the US! Whatever will Kyu-shik do? Well, for starters, he has no way of knowing what is going on at the airport, and Son-dal gets confirmed in the meantime. Kyu-shik is up to bat now, he readies, and…
Back at the church, Ji-won is once again drinking holy water, when Kyu-shik emerges from sleeping on the pews to chide her again. He’s dropped out, and they finally get together at the end. It’s love people! How did God ever expect to compete with Ha Ji-won? I mean, really?
This film does remind people of the Ben Stiller/Ed Norton movie Keeping the Faith, though in that movie the priest ends up staying a priest. I think it’s neat when movies show the more human side of being a person of the cloth, usually they are represented in some sort of holy light, or as some sort of corrupt monsters. Now, this film has some good moments, but there are a few points where things are either contrived or slow. It’s not as tightly wound as some of the other Korean Romantic Comedies I’ve seen lately, and thusly it suffers for that, even if it is better than a lot of the other fluff I run across. The puppet show with Kyu-shik in the tiger costume is one of the funniest things to come out of this film, and makes the movie worth watching for that alone. We got a lot of pictures, as there are some visually neat elements and I’m too indecisive to narrow them down to just a few, in addition to the babe-age in the film.
Rated 7/10 (STOP!, bike riding, Tai Chi-won, covering the naked women, little angel who’s a devil, Bad Girl gets pretty, Korean Mystery Machine)
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