Why do we wait for tragedy to strike to tell someone how special they are?

dont-forget-me-remember-you

Tragedy is like strong acid, it dissolves away all but the very gold of truth

D. H. Lawrence

Title
Don’t Forget Me  (2016)
Also known as
Remember You
Genre
 Melodrama,    Mystery,    Tragedy
Written by
 Yoon-jung Lee
Directed by
Yoon-jung Lee
Country of Origin
South Korea
Running time
106 minutes

oh! … brief

An astute lawyer, the victim of a motor vehicle accident, has lost a significant portion of his memory. While he tries to survive with the loss of his memory and retain a semblance of his former life, he meets a woman who he is connected to, but can’t understand how. The film follows the journey to regaining his memory.

oh! … talks film

This full-length indie film is a remake of the 2010 short film titled Remember O Goddess. The shorter version was a ‘pilot’ of the full-length production and was an introduction to screenplay writer and director Yoon-jung Lee. Both pieces are based on a novella Youn-jung Lee wrote in high school.

For Don’t Forget Me, Yoon-jung Lee wrote a truly heartbreaking story, one you fervently hope has a happy ending. She skillfully used mystery and intrigue to keep her audience engrossed.

Beneath the simplicity of the story is in fact, a deeper more tragic secret that is revealed slowly.  The plot and subplots are well articulated through clever narration by the various characters. Character development is thought-provoking as the puzzle pieces of the story begin to fall into place. In fact, Yoon-jung Lee’s use of puzzles in the story is shrewd. She dropped small offerings and subtle hints throughout the film which was ingenious.

I can’t find the right words to express the emotions I felt when watching this drama. It was heart-wrenching at every turn and the build-up to what is inevitably a tragic turn is palpable from start to bitter end.

Yoon-jung Lee used her writing of the script to indirectly explore touchy and emotional topics, such as mental health, loss, bereavement, and how the body copes with issues like mortality and shock.

The complex layering of the writing for this production was masterful. The audience is held prisoner as the intensity builds up and when the plot appears to come full circle, it’s almost as if they were transported to the exact moment of impact in the accident. The emotions provoked are so overpowering, it would take a detached individual to not shed a tear or two. Very powerful! This film is a definite slow burner!

Considering the tight budget, Yoon-jung Lee’s dexterous supervision fashioned a fast-paced, gritty, pansophic production. Where high-budget films take advantage of unlimited resources to create authenticity, Yoon-jung Lee’s is in truth more convincing for the flaws that critics might find in smaller-budget indie productions.

The cinematography for this film, by Woo Young-chang, is downplayed and muted adding to the fragile impression of the story, exactly what was required to complete the backdrop to this sad story. And Moon Sae-kyung’s editing was polished.

For a film that was so enigmatic, the filming, editing, and story were complemented by the skilled cast.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of Jung Woo-sung, in fact, he’s my favourite South Korean actor. And, it’s not just because he is a fantastic actor, an accomplished director in his own right, but because he is an amazingly compassionate human being, and that means something so much more!

As Yeon Seok-won, the lawyer who’s lost his memory following an accident, Jung Woo-sung delivered the fragile existence of his character with wretched accuracy. Jung Woo-sung always embraces his characters and there is sage wisdom in his interpretation of how he will deliver his performance, from the way he holds his body and uses his face and eyes to voice emotions. He is a master! In this role, his vacant facial expressions and aloofness with and underlying melancholic depression are entirely appropriate and solidly delivered. Every time I watch Jung Woo-sung acting, I am impressed, I have never seen him falter in interpreting and delivering his character. He takes my breath away!

Playing opposite Yeon Seok-won is Kim Jin-young, a woman equally broken by some experience in her past. Played by Kim Ha-neul, Kim Jin-young is equally stirring as a character. Where Yeon Seok-won is vacant and aloof, Kim Jin-young displays a deeper range of emotions and is both spirited and frantic. Kim Ha-neul’s mastery in bringing to life this quiet woman who appears to be kind and loving, but hides an agitated craziness just beneath the surface. Kim Ha-neul’s interpretation of her character’s frantic energy manifests itself in the shared dysfunctional chemistry shared with Jung Woo-sung’s Yeon Seok-won.

Both characters are crippled by their mental health issues and their codependency exacerbates the struggle to maintain a semblance of sanity and normalcy. There are scenes of tenderness and these scenes are both heartwarming and sobering – it’s easy to get lost the moment. The leads were discerning in their individual portrayal of their character, but equally keen in how they portrayed their characters’ time together.

oh! … sidekicks

The supporting cast was as important to the story and plot as the leads, which is not immediately apparent.

Oh Kwon-ho, YeonSeok-won’s best friend and business partner, was played by Bae Seong-woo. His portrayal of the business partner trying to balance frustration while remaining a friend was noteworthy.

Kim Young-hee, Yeon Seok-won’s client was played by Jang Young-nam who pulls off the blunt arrogant client beautifully.

Perhaps the most charming of the supporting cast is Kim Jin-young’s brother, Kim Dong-gun, a catholic priest/ father. Played by On Joo-wan, who captured the concerned expressions of a brother worried by his sister’s health perfectly, this actor could have had a larger role to play and I would have liked to see his character fleshed out.

The mysterious woman seen in flashbacks is Lee Bo-young who is somehow connected to Yeon Seok-won, but the truth is only revealed close to the end of the film. Lim Ju-eun who played this character had a small role with few lines. But, the role is central to the entire story and crucial to understanding all the pieces as they come together.

Shin Hyun-ho, an insurance salesman and acquaintance of Yeon Seok-won is the key character that connects all the dots. While this role was also minor, it was equally crucial to the complete story and was played by Lee Jun-hyeok.

oh! … that’s a wrap

The key aspect of this film, the mystery, held my attention and was singularly climatic. From the very beginning, it is clear that something is amiss and captures the attention immediately.  Even the ending, which is unique for South Korean melodrama standards, was riveting.

The honesty in the story and emotions portrayed by the actors and actresses was raw and pragmatic. I was immersed in the hopelessness of the situation and my heart ached for the leading characters.

I was touched by the simplicity of the story and the thought-provoking performances. This film is one I’ll watch again and of course, it will be added to my keepsakes list. I highly recommend it!

You’ll enjoy this film if you have experienced loss or supported someone who has experienced the death of someone they love unconditionally.

oh! … tidbits

Yoon-jung Lee made her feature debut with this full-length version of her 2010 acclaimed short film titled Remember O Goddess.

Yoon-jung Lee used Kickstarter to partially crowdfund this film.

Jung Woo-sung was a producer for this production. He only took on this role to try and protect Yoon-jung Lee’s original and core plot, which many other established producers offered the opportunity to produce wanted desperately to change. I’m thankful, among many others, that this didn’t happen.

oh! … soundtrack

 

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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