Vengeful romance drama with an excessive art budget.
Late last summer, Park Heung-sik released the ill-fated period action epic Memories of the Sword and this spring he gets chance to clean the slate with another period film. However, the film in question, which is already the third Japanese Colonial Era (1910-45) title to be released this year, is Love, Lies, a highfalutin, yet sloppy music and romance drama that fizzles from the get-go.
For a story about kisaengs (female court entertainers) led by two actresses (the gormless Han Hyo-joo and Chun Woo-hee in a role that doesn’t deserve her), Love, Lies is a surprisingly indifferent to gender themes and largely sidesteps the reality of the sexual services these women were expected to provide. Despite the rich setup, and spare no expenses art design, the film boils down to a petty revenge story of a young woman whose crush falls for her friend. But of course, the bad things that eventually happen to these characters suddenly become the fault of the nefarious Japanese occupiers.
As a story about rival singers, the film naturally features plenty of on-screen singing. Alas Love, Lies’ strongest element also leads to its most head-scratching moment. The soundtrack is filled with a tune that is undeniably gorgeous, but bizarrely reminiscent Adelle’s Skyfall theme song, combination of traditional and contemporaneous songs, save for a showstopping not exactly a good fit for 1940s Korea.
By Pierce Conran (Producer at 2Mr Films, film critic)