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Jang Hyuk (left) as the rabbit and Seong Yoo-Ri (right) as the lizard in Maybe.
AKA: Rabbit and Lizard
Korean: 토끼와 리저드
Year: 2009  
Director: Joo Ji-Hong  

Joo Ji-Hong

  Cast: Seong Yoo-Ri, Jang Hyuk, Kim Dong-Ju, Lee Jang Hyun, Kang Soo-Yeong, Kang San, Ahn Seo-Hyun, Kang Min-Ho, Lee Joo-Yeong, Oh Seong-Tae, Lee Seung-Yeon-I, Cha Tae-Hyun (cameo)
  The Skinny: Maybe looks and feels like quality filmmaking, but its storytelling style is too cold to leave a lasting impression on its audience.
Kevin Ma:
The original title of Maybe Rabbit and Lizard is actually more fitting for the film. Despite sounding like a bad Disney movie, the title is at least true to the story's idea of two people defined by the titular animals being brought together by fate. May (singer Seong Yoo-Ri, in her first film) is a Korean adoptee who was brought to America when she was young. Now grown up, she returns to Korea not only to find her parents, but also to find out why she has a squirming scar on her back that resembles a lizard. Upon her arrival, she meets taxi driver Eun-Sul (Jang Hyuk), who has a rare disease that can literally stop his heart anytime. He's also searching for an answer: he wants to know why a red rabbit keeps popping up in his dreams, and he'd like to know before he dies.

By fate, the lizard girl and the rabbit man converge in their searches, and they find out together what their respective animals mean. Even though writer-director Joo Ji-Hong brings the characters together via misleading mutual disdain, he makes up for it along the way by slowly departing from his cliched setup and developing his characters through incidents and action. However, Joo relies too much on his characters to carry his thin plot. Maybe is a quiet film with very introverted characters who would rather keep their discoveries and lessons to themselves instead of revealing them to one another. When the style works, the film is subtly told with beautifully captured images, and the characters' shared journey is simple but involving. However, at the same time, the film moves in such a quiet manner that it fails to leave much of an impression on its audience.

Not helping matters are Joo's characters, who are so detached they may be too cold for the audience to feel truly involved with them. Joo's script leaves too much unsaid rather than shown, and he implies far too little for the audience to insinuate any real life in these characters. While Seong and Jang are fine actors who work well together, Joo never bothers to make them characters worth following. We see bits and pieces that hint at their lives outside the film - May hid in the closet as a child, and Eun-Sul keeps a picture of his family - but Joo doesn't help the audience to relate to them because he doesn't properly introduce them in the first place.

Joo does effectively develop May and Eun-Sul throughout the film, but even then he doesn't seem to have a clear understanding of his characters. May is obviously attached to her life in Korea, but her civil conversation with her stepmother on the phone suggests that life in America couldn't have been so miserable. Meanwhile, Joo suggests that Eun-Sul intentionally alienates himself from all of his friends, including best friend Yeong-Nam (Cha Tae-Hyun in a cameo), but one of the dying wishes Eun-Sul wants to fulfill is sharing black bean noodles with Yeong-Nam next to the Han River. The choices Joo makes keeps the film's tone consistent, but the same doesn't apply to the characters, who seem inconsistent and even hard to follow.

This inconsistency becomes fatal with Joo's final twist, which is blunt and not all that surprising. The story logically answers the central question of how these two characters are tied together, but that revelation isn't taken anywhere beyond the reveal, and the characters don't change as a result. The inaction of the characters and the anticlimactic nature of the twist may reflect real life accurately, but it doesn't give anything interesting to the audience to care about or even remember. Maybe is in no way a failure in terms of filmmaking, and the two stars do the best with what they're given. However, its storytelling leaves the audience with too much perhaps, perchance, and of course, maybe. Actually, the film's current title may be more reflective of the film than I had initially thought. (Kevin Ma, 2010)


DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
Various Extras

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image credit: Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen