Very Ordinary Couple

연애의 온도 (Korea, 2013)
North American Premiere
112 minutes, DCP, in Korean with English subtitles
Directed by: Roh Deok
Starring: Lee Min-Ki, Kim Min-Hee, Ha Yeon-Soo

The sleeper hit of 2013, VERY ORDINARY COUPLE is a small, low budget romantic comedy that came out of nowhere, opened big, and wound up beating A Good Day to Die Hard and GI JOE 2 at the box office. On the surface, it’s hard to understand why. Lee and Jang are colleagues who work in the same Standard Chartered bank branch and they’ve just broken up. Because they didn’t want things to be awkward at work, they dated in secret. But now that they’re splitsville they hate the very sight of each other and on a company dinner they both get drunk and have an explosive public screaming match. So much for secrets.

Now the word is out: Lee and Jang dated and now hate one another. Forced to stand side by side every day they begin a cold war and soon their colleagues are taking sides. But the fighting reawakens the passion they felt for each other and hate is basically in the same neighborhood as love. Soon they fall back in the sack and are dating again. This time they vow to keep it secret, for real. And they also promise that this time it’ll be different. But their determination not to screw it up makes them so self-conscious that that’s exactly what starts to happen. And soon they’re breaking up again.

What made this movie so incredibly popular is how real it feels. The lead actors aren’t traditional beauties, but are instead terrific actors with great comic timing. The first film from Roh Deok, one of Korea’s rare female directors, she based it on her own life and it feels so genuinely observed and painfully real that some Korean journalists warned couples not to see it together or else they might break up, too. Roh Deok was the screenwriter on the cult favorite Save the Green Planet (2003) and it’s her smart, unexpected script that sells this movie, as well as the genuine performances of the two leads. A very, very funny movie, it’s also a very sad one as the two lovers vow, through gritted teeth, “I swear I’ll make this work, I swear I’ll do better this time,” and then, with the very best of intentions, smash everything into bits. Never stooping for the obvious joke or cheap laugh, VERY ORDINARY COUPLE is about how extraordinary every ordinary love affair really and truly is, and how it’s a miracle any of us survive.

Wednesday July 10, 5:45PM Walter Reade Theater Buy Tickets