A Moment To Remember (2004)

Country: South Korea

The lure of a touching love story is hard to resist. That is perhaps why many people turn to Korean cinema. There is something about Korean romantic films that creates a warm feeling inside, but at the same time, helps in catharsis. If there is one movie that meets these criteria perfectly, and still stands out as a memorable film in its genre, it is ‘A Moment To Remember’.

A Moment To Remember is the story of a couple from different social classes. When they fight the odds to get married, a shocking twist in fate tests their love for each other. This is the story of love’s fight in the face of adversity, and the emotional tale of enduring love.

Son Ye-jin and Jung Woo-sung play the protagonists and make a realistic ‘in-love couple’. Woo-sung’s seeming stoicism and Ye-jin’s cherubic personality clash, but this contrast is what gets this film’s point across. You can be very different in terms of social standing and personalities, but love knows no bounds.

The film, directed by Lee Jae-han, is an engaging one and will keep viewers interested in love stories engrossed. While the first third of the film takes on the form of a romantic comedy, that ‘mood’ soon dies down, and more serious matters come to the forefront.

The acting, by two of South Korea’s famous actors is noteworthy, and they are convincing in their roles. The film is structured well and flows coherently, highlighting apparently unimportant details in the beginning, which end up making sense as the story progresses.

The film does get melodramatic at points, but it does not ruin the overall experience.

A Moment To Remember is shot well and though the cinematography is not brilliant, it works for the film. The music plays out as a companion piece to the film, but is not exceptional as a standalone soundtrack.

FINAL VERDICT: Watch it if you like to ‘indulge in’ emotional love stories every now and then. Also watch it if you’re trying to get yourself to cry.

Avoid it if you think romantic films about enduring love are just not for you. Also avoid it if you would pick action over drama any day.

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Baran (2001)

Country: Iran

Very few films about love touch you in a way you cannot explain. What is love exactly? How does one depict it in films? Is it about conversations and coffees, or suffering and anxiety? Is it physical, or platonic?

While most love stories follow the same pattern of two people falling in love and then fighting the odds to be together, or basically ending up with heartbreak or death, a few love stories are depicted in a way you cannot possibly predict, and Majid Majidi’s Baran is one such film.

Iranian New Wave cinema has a lot of feathers in its cap for its projection of everyday life – the ‘mundane’. Only that ultimately we discover that everyday life is not as mundane as we would like to think. There are small things, that usually go unnoticed, that are beautiful.

Majidi is one such director who stuns. Though his focus on the everyday ‘mundane’ is as realistic as life itself, his stories never run dry and they never become predictable. Just as unpredictable as life, his stories keep you guessing (not like a suspense film) because they are like unraveling the uncertainty of real life.

Baran is a film that is not only visually spectacular, but is emotionally profound. It is a story about love; love that transcends cultures, languages, and ultimately, egos. It is like a visual poem that unfolds the story of two young protagonists and their love against the backdrop of a building under construction.

Set in modern day Iran, the story revolves around a Kurdish Iranian construction worker and an Afghan girl. Though resentful of the girl initially, the boy eventually finds himself in love with her after he discovers a certain secret about her. It is this love that drives him to protect her from a distance so that she is unaware of his involvement in helping her.

Their love is a silent one – where any conversation between the two is barely present. Instead, what is apparent is the extent to which a person is willing to change for a change in heart.

There are no green fields and stolen glances in this film. There are only fuming tar drums and concrete, and a lot of mud and rain. But one has to see Baran just to appreciate how the bleakest imagery can be made beautiful.

To watch Baran, you need to put aside everything you know about conventional love stories, because ultimately we know how to expect complications and conflicts in films we watch, and Baran may be a let-down if it is viewed with similar expectations.

Instead, watch it as one watches real life from a distance, and you will not be disappointed.

The smoke from the tar drums, pigeons flapping their wings, and Ahmad Pejman’s emotive soundtrack are sure not to elude you.

FINAL VERDICT: Watch it if you do not always expect a physical angle in a love story. Also watch it if you want to see a completely realistic way of life.

Avoid it if you are looking for action, climaxes and denouements.