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  Take Care of My Cat  

The five female friends of Take Care of My Cat.
  Year: 2001    
  Director: Jung Jae-eun  
  Cast: Bae Doo-na, Lee Yo-won, Ok Ji-young, Lee Eun-ju, Lee Eun-jil  
  The Skinny : A beautiful surprise. Short film director Jung Jae-eun's first feature manages to recreate the life and relationships of young women in Korea in a remarkably realistic way. It's often quirky and silly (with inventive ideas, like cell phone text messaging onscreen), but underneath all that a much deeper message emerges. Bae Doo-na keeps improving, and with luck, she'll become a big star.  
by LunaSea:
      Though it was acclaimed as one of the best films of the year by several Korean film magazines, Take Care of My Cat didn't make an impact on the box office and was pulled just a few days after its release. This is unfortunate, as few recent films have been so smart in depicting the limbo between one's graduation and their first job. It also shows how relationships evolve over the years without resorting to melodrama. In school, they were best friends...then suddenly they grew up and lost contact. How many times have you seen this, or experienced it first hand?
      The main characters come from all walks of life: we have the upper class, bratty and beautiful Hye-joo (Lee Yo-won), who's working at a brokerage firm in a high-paying, low-skill, but unstable job. She finally moves to Seoul from Inchon, a city which she hated. Tae-hee (Bae Doo-na) is the most idealistic of the group. She grew up in a "model" family, complete with a tacky group photo in the living room. Her parents expect her to continue in their footsteps and become a good citizen. In turn, she wants to run away from this middle-class conformism and find real freedom. There's also Biryu and Onjoo (Lee Eun-ju & Lee Eun-jil), twins of Chinese descent who live alone, and spend their time trying to teach people how to them apart. They're also starting to realize how their roots are shaping their role in society, and their ability to find decent jobs. Completing the group is Ji-young (Ok Ji-young), a textile student who lives with her grandparents in a dump and is trying to find a solution to her poor financial situation.
       In school everything seemed to be fine. They were all too young to think about the future, society and the reality of what's out there. Their relationships were based on simple things, like playing together, seeing each other every day and not worrying about tomorrow. Now things are different. Hye-joo and Ji-young hardly talk to each other, and the reason seems to be only social: one has everything she wants - nice clothes, a good job in the capital, a loving boyfriend and the latest brand of cell phone. The other has nothing and worries if she'll end up a wandering homeless woman.
       Their efforts to keep their friendship strong (meeting every month, drinking together and having fun) seem like an admission that something is changing. They're becoming adults, and now everything is becoming harder to understand and more painful to cope with. While the central character seems to be Tae-hee, time is given to everybody to build their characters properly and make us understand their situations. Perhaps only the twins are underdeveloped, but it's not a major flaw as their characters aren't crucial to the film's central message, which involves Tae-hee, Hye-joo and Ji-young.
      Bae Doo-na and Lee Yo-won are two of the hottest young actresses in Korea, and their performances are not surprisingly very strong. Bae has come a long way since The Ring Virus in 1999, and after an excellent performance in Barking Dogs Never Bite, she seems ready to reach the top. Her facial expressions are often priceless, and she is able to convey emotion and situation in a manner that's easy to connect with. Lee is equally excellent in a demanding role. This is a film whose strength is based on its message, its pace, and its characterization, so the subtle performances don't stand out easily.
     This is not a film that will revolutionize the industry (like Christmas in August for melodrama, or Shiri for blockbusters), but it's one of those small, intelligent works that you can relate to. That's because it presents life without embellishments, and shows the way friendship evolves when clashing with reality. It teaches you to value your friendships, and just makes you appreciate your childhood and teen years a bit more (Enjoy them while you can, kids.). This is a delightful, charming, smart work which sadly wasn't seen by enough people, and deserves to be enjoyed by many more. One of the best of the year. (LunaSea 2002)
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
2-disc Special Edition
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen