SINGAPORE – 16 years after hit Korean drama Snowman, Gong Hyo-jin and Kim Rae-won reunite to play an older, but not necessarily wiser pair of adults who keep having the worst luck in love. Kim plays Jae-hoon, a man struggling with daily chores and work after he caught his fiancé cheating a mere month ago. Gong enters the picture as new coworker Sun-yong, who is assigned Jae-hoon as her supervisor to ease her into work.
The two soon realise that they have much in common, but gossip in their small office has a nasty way of spreading like wildfire. What follows is a complicated route to love that is interrupted at every stage by the realities of their situation.
What struck me the most with Crazy Romance was the age of the protagonists. Jae-hoon and Sun-yong are both 30-somethings who have been burned with past relationships, and bring with them all the emotional baggage accumulated through the years. In this way, it sets itself apart from the usual run-of-the-mill Korean romcom, which usually has younger protagonists who are plagued with personal insecurities.
Sun-yong is anything but a simpering ingenue who is looking for the man of her dreams. She takes charge of her life and tries her best to fit into a new job, ignoring the office gossip that revolves around her to the best of her abilities. Gong plays her cynical practicality with aplomb, proving once again why her popularity hasn’t waned even after her peak.
On the other hand, Jae-hoon is - to put it simply - a mess. Now living alone, his apartment is in a constant state of disarray, and he is barely able to function in between work and drinking himself into a stupor. This is a man that is lost and bereft of all romantic emotion.
There is nothing fantastical or fluffy about Crazy Romance. In fact, the Chinese title for the movie translates to “The Most Ordinary Romance”. This is a less attention-grabbing title, but is a far more accurate one. Director Kim Han-kyul wanted to film a romantic comedy that was grounded firmly in reality. This makes for a far more refreshing and interesting take on the formulaic boy-meets-girl story repeated ad nauseum in cinemas.
What the movie also addresses is the toxic nature of social media and gossip. Sun-yong’s past entanglements form the bulk of what her coworkers talk about, especially after someone digs news a disgruntled ex posted online. This is not to say Jae-hoon’s relationship with Sun-yong is all that appropriate either, but at the very least they’re able to confide in each other and talk openly about how their past relationships have affected them.
Crazy Romance may look like another office romance movie, but the protagonists are sufficiently fleshed out and are engaging. It would not be a surprise if some audience members see bits of themselves reflected on the screen in one or both of them.
Score: 3/5 stars
Crazy Romance opens in cinemas on 31 October, 2019 (Singapore).