Review: A Year-End Medley

I’ve never been a big fan of holiday movies, whether they’re Christmas-, Hannukah-, Thanksgiving-, or New Years-themed. There’s something a bit too circumscribed about them, and the effort to maintain a contextual holiday “spirit” is, I find, dispiriting. This Korean movie, made for TV, seems to take as its model the Love, Actually style of mutiple plot lines interwoven into a kind of holiday quilt. The timeframe starts on Christmas Eve and ends New Years morning, and while almost all the stories are romantic in nature, they cover enough ground to draw you in…up to a point. 

Almost all the action revolves around a high-end Seoul hotel, which provides the requisite luxury production design without having to dive into fantasy-land. The two main plotlines involve female staff. So-jin (Han Ji-min), the hotel’s catering captain, has to manage the wedding ceremony and reception of Seung-hyo (Kim Young-kwang), the guy on whom she’s had a crush since they were in a pop band together in university. Lee-young (Won Jin-ah), an aspiring musical actor who works on the housekeeping staff, is put in charge of the executive suite when the hotel’s new, young CEO, Yong-jin (Lee Dong-wook), has to use it for a week after his home is made uninhabitable by an exploding boiler. These two stories blend in with other, lesser tales that explain the economic situation of the hotel and the various characters’ back stories, some of which involve relatives or acquaintances of the principals with their own stories, like So-jin’s high school age brother (Jo Joon-young), who has a crush on a classmate, a champion figure skater (Won Ji-an); or the hotel’s middle aged widower doorman, Sang-gyu (Jung Jin-young), a former student activist who runs into his first love (Lee Hye-yeong) before the wedding rehearsal of her daughter at the hotel. Then there are some stories that are basically untethered, the most potent of which is about an up-and-coming pop singer (Seo Kang-Joon) who is performing at the hotel while being wooed by a powerful talent agency, which wants to cut out the singer’s long-time loyal manager (Lee Kwang-soo), who himself seems to be in love with the singer. Then there is a self-defined loser, Jae-yong (Kang Na-neul), who decides to blow all his money on a nice room before committing suicide on New Years Eve. 

For the first hour or so, the filmmakers do a pretty good job of juggling the various storylines, and while some are better than others, they gel in a satisfactory manner as they make their way to the fateful date, but in the end they actually remain in their separate lanes and are thus entirely predictable, which is another thing I don’t like about holiday movies. You always know how they’re going to end.

In Korean. Now playing in Tokyo at Shinjuku Piccadilly (050-6861-3011), Marunouchi Piccadilly (050-6868-0075). 

A Year-End Medley home page in Japanese

photo (c) 2021 CJ ENM Corp., Hive Media Corp.

This entry was posted in Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.