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Lovers of Six Years
Lovers of 6 Years

Yoon Kye-Sang and Kim Ha-Neul are Lovers of Six Years.
  Korean: 6년째 연애중
Year: 2008  
Director: Park Hyeon-Jin  

Park Beom-Soo, Park Hyeon-Jin, Yang Hyeon-Chan


Kim Ha-Neul, Yoon Kye-Sang, Shin Sung-Rok, Cha Hyun-Jun, Ok Ji-Yeong, Seo Dong-Won, Kim Hye-Ok, Jeong Yoon-Min

  The Skinny:

This romantic comedy-drama about a six year-old romance is diverting and entertaining, and possesses some decent observations. However, it's not conclusive enough to make it anything more than average. Okay for genre fans.

by Kozo:
Romantic comedies are understandably very popular, as they canonize and encapsulate one of the very experiences that make life seem worthwhile: falling in love. However, after you've fallen in love, "What Now?" becomes the big question, and a movie subject with likely fewer fans than the masses that eat up Pretty Woman or Needing You. Korean romantic comedy-drama Lovers of Six Years fits firmly into the "What Now?" genre, advancing the "now" way past the initial blush of love and into a place where familiarity with your partner can become a right pain. At the same time, it dabbles in romantic comedy clichés and features a glossiness that makes its exploration of love's pitfalls seem gratuitous and even glib. There's truth and pain in Loves of 6 Years but also cute moments and some romantic comedy-style shenanigans. This is what's called having your cake and eating it too.

Romantic comedy veteran Kim Ha-Neul (My Tutor Friend) stars as Da-Jin, who's entering year six with longtime boyfriend Jae-Young (Yoon Kye-Sang, formerly of boy band G.O.D.). We immediately learn of the couple's complacent relationship, as they act fussy and trade barbs while eating, sleeping, attempting sex, or celebrating their sixth anniversary. Their distance shows in minor, but telling ways; their anniversary gifts are unequal, and the natural reaction for these two is to get annoyed rather than attempt the all-important feat of understanding. Each is proud to sport their "own life", and still maintain separate residences, though their two apartments are within view of each other. Each places career at a premium too, and work is an easy excuse for missing time with the other. Da-Jin is a successful editor at a publishing company, while Jae-Young's job as a home shopping TV producer keeps him very busy, plus well stocked with trendy gifts to lazily hand off to Da-Jin.

But work introduces each to potential new paramours. Da-Jin is trying to make waves with a new project, and pursues busy designer Jin-Seong (Shin Sung-Rok) for his help, leading to minor misadventures. Da-Jin practically stalks the guy, and breaks his treasured vintage LP after a silly prank and an ill-advised foot chase. Still, her persistence leads to a burgeoning attraction, and even spoken affection from Jin-Seong. Jae-Young's new flirtation is even more irresistible in familiar, glorified romantic comedy style. He strikes up a chatty connection with Ji-Eun (Cha Hyun-Jun), a new colleague, and her combination of cute and sexy makes her an idea playmate to pass the time. Besides, now Jae-Young can say he has to "see a co-worker" when making excuses to Da-Jin. Time passes, but not blissfully, and Da-Jin and Jae-Young soon discover that their minor relationship misgivings have become full-blown issues. Is the bloom off this rose permanently, or can some last-minute rom-com magic save them?

The deterioration of love is a more complex theme to explore than simply falling in love, and first-time director Park Hyun-Jin handles the subject well. Her two "falling-out-of-love" protagonists seem recognizable, and the insights and observations into an aging relationship are keen, if not too cutesy in detail. The film gets points for not making the characters too likeable - after all, who really wants to root for potential liars or unfaithful lovers? Many a modern relationship movie has gotten mileage from these themes, and Lovers of Six Years follows suit, in a witty but rather placid manner. The film plods along, seldom finding a way to up the pace or tension between the characters. In a sense, we're right there with them as their relationship slowly grows cold, as their daily interaction holds little attraction. It's their new flirtations and potential romances that create the film's spark. Oddly, it sometimes feels easier to root for the characters to break up and get together with their new partners, rather than reaffirm their long-standing love.

Which is where Lovers of Six Years both succeeds and confounds. It succeeds in that it presents its issues well, and is telling in the minor details and crossed wires that could lead to a relationship falling apart. At the same time, it confounds in that it uses the familiar romantic comedy tropes to move the film along. Jae-Young and Da-Jin's burgeoning side relationships are portrayed in a manner not unlike many a bubbly romantic comedy, in that they're attractive but also manufactured and a little superficial. The film is also presented in a too-glossy manner, and resorts to apologies in the rain and other staple clichés of the genre to get its point across. And what point is that exactly? That love can die. Or return. Or maybe it never really goes anywhere. Who the heck really knows, because Lovers of Six Years is not very conclusive about what it's trying to say or do, not does it create any pressing need for the audience to make their own deductions. It presents its characters, sees them mope, brood, and make mistakes, and finally does the big thing that everyone expects: Jae-Young and Da-Jin will either break up or make up. The film does chart its path well, but when it gets to where it's going, will the audience care?

I would argue "no". Lovers of Six Years doesn't really fall on either side of the fence in its view of relationships, which would be great if the point was something a little less commercial than a glossy romance starring one of Korea's top romantic comedy queens. The film isn't that, though, and seemingly insists that its characters and the actors playing them should be reason enough to warrant some sort of emotional attachment. Lovers of Six Years doesn't earn that, which makes it a hard film to truly enjoy. It does offer some simple pleasures, as the production is exceptionally sound, the actors are solid and quite photogenic, and director Park creates some pleasing romantic moments. Those moments, however, exist mainly between the lead characters and their new flirtations, and it's arguable that the film creates an emotional connection to its leads that makes an outcome - any outcome - desirable. It's sad to watch love fade, but when the lovers' initial connection is barely felt, that sadness becomes distant and clinical. Lovers of Six Years is well-made and well-intentioned enough to be diverting and entertaining - it just doesn't have the ability to do much more. (Kozo 2008)

  Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
SM Pictures
2-DVD Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean subtitles
Various extras
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

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