Daily Projections, 12-18-2018: My Dear Enemy (2008)

Title: My Dear Enemy
Director: LEE Yoon-ki
Country of Origin: South Korea
Year: 2008
Screening Format: Blu-ray
Setting: Home
First viewing? Yes

IMDB classifies My Dear Enemy as a “road movie”, and it is. Sort of. My Dear Enemy is to road movies as a day spent running errands is to road trips. You spend a lot of time in the car without ever really going anywhere. The journey here is an emotional one. Hee-su (played by Korea’s Queen of Cannes JEON Do-yeon) tracks down her ex Byung-woon to collect on a debt he can’t pay. They spend the remainder of the day together, gathering a little money here and there to pay his debt. Byung-woon believes the best about people, while Hee-su has built a wall of cynicism around herself. This is masterfully translated into the look of the film. In social situations, Byung-woon gets stuck right in while Hee-su stands apart, rarely speaking. Visually, too, she is shot frequently in reflection, through glass, or partially obscured by a barrier. Throughout the day, those barriers are gradually worn down until she interacts with others of her own accord. Beautifully shot making often masterful use of the 2.35 aspect ratio while at other times intentionally refusing to use the entire frame (mirroring the editing: elegant long takes interspersed with series of quick, superfluous cuts), LEE Yoon-ki’s My Dear Enemy is a sensitive and subtle film worth a deeper look in the future.