The upcoming film “Like for Likes” tells the stories of three couples - from left, Kang Ha-neul and E Som, Yoo Ah-in and Lee Mi-yeon, and Kim Joo-hyuk and Choi Ji-woo - that involve social media.
Lighthearted omnibus romance films have been around for awhile, especially since “Love Actually” hit the jackpot internationally in 2003, making it a regular visitor to both the big and small screens during the Christmas season.
A number of Korean films have attempted to reenact the success by featuring more than one pair of people and trying to convey a heartwarming message that penetrates all the loosely connected stories.
But until now, there hasn’t been a single movie that came close to the success of the original.
But just when you think the fad has finally died out, another film of the same format is trying to reinvigorate the genre.
Titled “Like for Likes,” the film directed by filmmaker Park Hyun-jin of “Lovers of Six Years” (2008), is a contemporary love story that revolves around three couples and how their use of social media influences their relationships.
The biggest charm of the film is its hardly believable all-star cast including Korean heartthrob Yoo Ah-in along with weighty actresses like Lee Mi-yeon and Choi Ji-woo, both of whom are appearing on the big screen for the first time in at least seven years.
The central couple consists of Lee, who plays the star screenwriter Kyung-ah, and Yoo, who plays a character very much like himself in real life: a superstar actor.
After one of Kyung-ah’s early works boosted Yoo’s character Jin-woo to immediate stardom, the two have been at each other’s throats for unclear reasons.
Kyung-ah is aiming for a spectacular comeback in the drama scene, which wouldn’t be possible without Jin-woo, but he won’t accept the role, and their back-and-forth continues.
The second couple is made up of Hallyu star Choi Ji-woo, who plays the attractive stewardess Joo-ran, and Kim Joo-hyuk, who plays her landlord as well as housemate.
Joo-ran may be all that any man could wish for, but her naive attitude around them is hindering her from finding her future spouse and time is running out.
Kim’s Seong-chan voluntarily coaches her to present herself nicely on social media to grab guys’ attention, but things start to change as their feelings toward each other enter into unknown territory.
The most realistic and also relatable couple out of the three is the last one, consisting of Kang Ha-neul and model-turned-actress E Som.
Kang plays Su-ho, a talented songwriter who has never been on a date before because of the complex he has about his hearing ability. E plays Na-yeon, a confident woman who first approaches Su-ho through social media and asks him out.
“The hardest part in directing the film was differentiating each of them with distinctive stories and auras,” said director Park at a press event on Feb. 3.
“However, I think the basic role of a director is bringing good actors to the set, and in that sense my struggle was a pleasant thing to worry about,” she added.
Although the film draws on typical happy-ending love stories, Park tried to imbue her personal beliefs into the screenplay.
“I revised the screenplay in order to make my female characters into independent figures,” she said.
“I didn’t want it to seem like females being dragged along by males, which is something common in Korean romances,” she added.
“I definitely wanted to emphasize the female characters, which is why I endowed each and every one of them with concrete professions who are able to say and behave the way they want to.”
The film opens nationwide on Feb. 18.
BY Jin Eun-Soo [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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