Korean film released in 2000

Directed by Lee Hyung-Seung


Have you ever wondered what you would do if you discovered a device for time travel? Would you use it to discover what future lies ahead of you? Or would you use it to make changes in the past? Or better yet, would you use it to gain riches beyond anything you've ever imagined?

Well, Il Mare doesn't really get into that. Instead, the time travel device (a mailbox at a seaside home dubbed Il Mare) becomes a communication avenue for two people separated by a difference of two years - Sung-Hyun (Lee Jung-Jae) in 1998 and Eun-Ju (Jeon Ji-Hyun) in 2000. They start exchanging letters to each other over a period of time and begin to develop a close friendship. While Sung-Hyun begins to develop romantic feelings for Eun-Ju, he is hampered obviously by the time difference (evident by the fact that Eun-Ju of 1998 has no idea who he is) but also by the fact that Eun-Ju of 2000 still pines for an old flame.

With the rich cinematography and lovely shots of the seaside, Il Mare is certainly a beautiful looking film. The budding romance story is also well done and the two leads certainly have good chemistry, even with the challenge of rarely sharing any scenes together. Jeon Ji-Hyun is radiant throughout the movie.

However, there are two things that bother me about the movie.

One is the plausibility of the whole time travel concept used here. Let me put it this way - I was raised on watching Star Trek and the concept of time-space continuum used there. In Il Mare, the ending should never have worked under that framework. Don't get me wrong - I thought it was a nice way to wrap up the movie ("I'm going to tell you a story...") but I started riffing to my wife about how it couldn't possibly work. She, of course, rolled her eyes and told me to shut the fuck up.

Secondly, I find the soundtrack irritating. They keep playing the same piano melody over and over again - it does nothing but remind me of that wedding chestnut All My Life by K-Ci and JoJo. Given that I HATE HATE HATE that song, you can only imagine how much I can't stand the soundtrack to Il Mare. All those who say that they enjoyed the soundtrack need to get their heads checked.

In conclusion, Il Mare is a fine film hampered only by my tendency to be a geek about time travel and overly critical of lousy music.

Owlman's Rating: 8/10

Note: The film is receiving a North American remake, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, and slated for a 2006 release - once again proving that Hollywood producers have completely run out of original ideas.