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Wanee & Junah
|     review    |     notes     |     availability     |
Joo Jin-Mo and Kin Hee-Sun
  Year: 2001  
  Director: Kim Yong-kyun  
  Cast: Kim Hee-sun, Joo Jin-mo, Jo Seung-woo, Choi Kang-hee  
The Skinny: This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime occasions when the stars are aligned, and a film starring Kim Hee-sun and Joo Jin-mo (not exactly known for their acting prowess) is good - thanks to their performances. Wanee & Junah should be seen just for their efforts, but it's also a very intelligent piece of filmmaking.
by LunaSea:
     Truth be told, Joo Jin-mo is not that bad an actor. He held his own in Happy End (not the easiest of feats, working opposite Jeon Do-yeon and Choi Min-shik) and Musa: The Warrior, and has even worked with Kim Ki-duk. It's Kim Hee-sun who gets the harsher reviews from the press. Her performances in Calla, Ghost In Love and Bichunmoo were deservedly criticized for their stiff delivery and lack of range. The press has also claimed that Kim's success is simply a result of her beauty. Wanee & Junah might help change that perspective a little, because Kim's performance here is quite good, and she seems the perfect choice for the role. Joo is very solid as well, and it was unexpected to see the two carry an unconventional romantic drama like this. It's also a pleasant surprise, as it's always nice to see actors improve.
     Wanee (Kim Hee-sun) is an animator, who is rapidly losing any ambition and passion for life. She's just surviving because of her job and her boyfriend's presence. Junah (Joo Jin-mo) is a scriptwriter trying to make it in the film business, but he values sincerity over commercial themes and doesn't want to compromise himself. The two live together, and bear life's difficulties by giving each other comfort. However, there seems to be something between the two that prevents Wanee from fully connecting with Junah. She doesn't express her feelings, like she's somehow trapped by a mysterious force. When old friend So-young (Choi Kang-hee) comes to visit Wanee, Junah finally learns what's behind his girlfriend's sorrow. It's something that concerns her past, and it prohibits her from becoming seriously attached to anyone else.
     The film switches between present and past in a very interesting way, using animation to represent the characters' childhood memories. It's the same technique used by Richard Linklater in Waking Life: first the scene is shot as live-action, and later digitally animated. Unlike Waking Life, the animated scenes in Wanee & Junah are kept simple, as if they were hand drawn in watercolor. There isn't much of a plot to this film. It's more concerned with exploring Wanee's past, and showing how Junah is able to comfort her even if their relationship is not conventional love.
     Kim, considering her past performances, is impressive. She's restrained and gives depth to her character's emotional struggle. Joo is effective in conveying how his presence helps Wanee survive day by day. It's all about small details, which slowly recreate the characters' past and present relationships. The supporting cast is solid as well, and besides the impressive animation, the film features nice cinematography and a good soundtrack. All considered, Wanee & Junah is an unexpected surprise. And, the film should allow Kim Hee-sun to get more interesting roles, hopefully separating her from her past "flower vase" performances. (LunaSea 2002)
Notes: • The film's official site ( is a little gem of creativity. You can take a look inside Wanee & Junah's house; listen to dialogue from the film, read about the characters, director and crew and much more. Worth a look.
Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 0 NTSC (Marked as Region 3)
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Korean Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles

image courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen