Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Film Review: Over the Border (2006)

Over The Border (Review)
South Korea/2006
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

Kim Sun-ho plays the French horn in a North Korean orchestra. He is madly in love with Yon-hwa and plans to marry her. However, his plans change as his family is discovered contacting their grandfather, who detected to South Korea long ago. Sun-ho and his family are quickly forced to escape into South Korea leaving everything behind - including Yon-hwa. In South Korea, Sun-ho saves his money with high hopes to bring Yon-hwa over...

The story in this film is much more that a romantic drama; it's as much a story about people and unnecessary borders as it is about love. The story starts with the development of Sun-ho and Yon-hwa's relationship - Sun-ho being an awkward and quirky young man and Yon-hwa being a nice and straightforward young lady. Sun-ho's untimely departure causes him immense pain and he refuses to give up, taking up several jobs to pay for Yon-hwa's escape. However, Sun-ho runs into swindlers that further delay his plans and is informed of Yon-hwa's possible marriage in North Korea; what can you really do when a border stops you from love? Sun-ho attempts to continue his miserable life and eventually meets a new, kind woman... That's as far as I'll go, at least in detail.

The second half of the film is painful to watch. You know what's going on, but you can't do anything to stop it. The pain is effectively transmitted into the audience - the type of pain and anxiety that makes you want to quit a movie. This is a story that can make you feel because of how invested you become with the characters and their relationships. I also enjoyed the scenes that show the culture-shock of moving or visiting a new place; one can only imagine how a North Korean would feel seeing the advancements in technology and society. The film ends on a very peaceful note - a very resolved yet bittersweet ending. A message I received in this film is: Love is universal, borders only hold us back - people are people. I'm sure other viewers will get other messages, and that's 100% okay. It's a genuinely meaningful and emotional story.

The acting is fantastic from the entire cast. Cha Seung-won plays Sun-ho perfectly; he's very awkward and funny at the appropriate times, and conveys emotion perfectly when he gets, well, emotional. Jo Yi-jin plays Yom-hwa very well, as well; her emotional scenes are also very powerful and authentic. Together, these two actors have great chemistry that adds to the realism of the film. The music is also perfect for the film's setting and tone. The film is shot beautifully, as well. The story goes over several years, and moves at a fast pace; there are some moments where I wished for more details and background, but those are few and far between.

Overall, Over The Border is a magnificent film about people and love. It's incredibly emotional, it's often humorous, and ultimately positive. Don't miss this beautiful South Korean gem - I highly recommend it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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