MY DEAR ENEMY
Starring Do-yeon Jeon, Jung-woo Ha
Directed by Yoon-ki Lee
On the surface, My Dear Enemy, a Korean indie, is an extended dialogue between two characters sorting through the wreckage of their shared past. What elevates it beyond most other relationship dramas is a fresh spin on a familiar premise: the road trip between two people with unfinished business.
Enemy’s unfinished business hinges on a quest for payback. Hee-su (Do-yeon Jeon), frustrated and tightly wound, tracks down her light-hearted, charming ex-boyfriend, Byeong-woon (Jung-woo Ha), to collect on an IOU for $3,500 that he wrote her three years prior. Desperate (why is never made clear), she demands he fork over the cash, resulting in a day-long treasure hunt as she drives him around to rustle up the money from the various women in his life.
The writers resist the temptation to indulge in road-trip staples like over-the-top pit stops and detours fraught with manufactured drama. Instead the couple encounter fully-realized supporting characters who serve to reveal more about the leads. Whether it’s a tense confrontation between Hee-su and a pampered girl with a sugar daddy, or a visit with the divorced single mom Byeong-woon once helped through hard times, each segment adds more pieces to character studies so vibrant and complex, they transcend the bounds of fiction to take on a near-tangibility. We feel like we know these people and we can’t help but care.
Making it easy to be drawn in are utterly fantastic performances by Jeon and Ha, a perfect odd couple who have an easy chemistry and enough skill to know that what’s left unsaid can speak volumes. The result is a film that’s beautifully restrained without sacrificing heart. —Andrea Warner