Touted as the biggest love story in Korea in 2005, it is no surprise why the hype. Based/Inspired by a true story (there had been a handful of such movies in the recent weeks), You are My Sunshine is your typical melodramatic romance, with leads so cute and pretty, you can't help but be captivated as you embark on their journey of love.
It brings to mind a frequently asked question, whether it is better to love, or be loved. Seok-joong (Hwang Jeong-min) is a affable, simple minded hillbilly farmer, who dreams of getting married to the woman of his dreams, and settling down in a cattle ranch. Luckless in love, he contemplates going abroad to look for a Filipino wife, just as one of his buddies did. But anyhow soon after, he meets Eun-ha (Jeon Do-yeon), a "coffee" girl who also moonlights as a karaoke hostess, and falls head over heels with her.
Eun-ha is a complex woman with a shady past, but although we were not told exactly what, from Do-yeon's portrayal, it doesn't take a genius to warrant an accurate guess. She's extremely guarded and frosty, having lost hope in men, but eventually gets touched by Seok-joong's sincerity. Who says your average joe couldn't snag that hot babe, if he tries doggedly hard, and is thick skinned about it?
And thick skinned he sure is, as he forges ahead in marriage despite objections from his aged mother. The movie then moves onto a different plane, looking at societal prejudices against people of certain trades, as well as misinformation about the disease AIDS. Eun-ha's past catches up with her (shades of Banderas-Jolie's Original Sin here), and Seok-joong learns of her being inflicted with the disease. Eun-ha disappears, and the village folk gets flustered in having to undergo HIV testing, putting the blame of the introduction of the disease on Seok-joong.
It's always difficult when you want to shake off the past, but yet get haunted by its ghost. You're seeking a new and ideal life, and it's always blissful to be with a loved one. You know the romance bit pauses and the melodrama sets in after the introduction of the ex-boyfriend, and the pacing of the movie suffered with the discovery of the illness thereafter.
I was waiting for scenes which will turn on the tearducts. There were ample potential ones like the uneventful searches, the longing, the loss, but they were all building up the emotions to that one scene near the end, where you really feel the love lost, of being so close yet so far, the longing feeling to hold your loved one in your arms, to embrace them in warmth, to keep them safe from harm and to shower them with your love. Damn power, and really heartwrenching, although it sort of looked comedic at the start.
As the alternative to another Korean romance Daisy, this one tended to be a little more intimate mature, and being less flashy. If you're up for some good old fashioned weepy, then You are My Sunshine is your choice between the two.