In Besame Mucho (a.k.a. Kiss Me Much, 2001), Young-hee (Li Mi-sook) and Chul-soo (Jeon Kwang-ryul) are an ordinary couple with four young children. They live in a small two-bedroom apartment in Seoul and are from all appearances just your typical family.
The family’s world is shattered one day when Chul-soo is fired from his job as a financial adviser. Because he acted as guarantor for a man who absconded with 700 million won, Chul-soo has to come up with the same amount of money in one month or lose his apartment. The story essentially revolves around the couple’s desperate measures to save their house.
I found the movie fairly gripping and touching. Li Mi-sook is wonderful as usual. There’s just something so poised and regal (and beautiful!) about her even when she’s acting as a flustered wife and mother. I had moments of deja vu, though, when I thought I was watching her in An Affair (the movie that introduced me to her and Lee Jung-jae) because of the similar hairstyle.
The most touching moment in the movie for me didn’t come from Lee Mi-sook, however; it came from Jeon Kwang-ryul as he carried the oldest child on his back and both were weeping as father poured out his inner regrets to the son.
Although I enjoyed the movie, it was after I had finished watching it that I began to feel rather perturbed about how some of the issues were resolved. I didn’t think Young-hee’s ‘sacrifice’ was necessary, and I didn’t like how her husband kept silent about his own desperate act of ‘sacrifice’ – that was so hypocritical! I didn’t like or understand what Young-hee did after she revealed the truth to her husband, and I also felt the ending was too ‘neat.’
Still, this is a pretty good movie because it makes you confront issues that most of us would rather not think about. What do we do when things fall apart?