Starting out as a low-budget indie with funding from a Kickstarter campaign before landing a big star and studio, Lee Yoon-jung’s surprising debut Remember You is the first major Korean release of 2016. Reminiscent of his part in the classic Korean romantic drama A Moment to Remember (2004), Jung Woo-sung plays a lawyer who loses his memory after a car crash. Beside him is melodrama veteran Kim Ha-neul as a woman he quickly develops a bond with, even though he doesn’t remember whether or not they’ve met before.
With a style that will be familiar to fans of either Korean romantic fare or American indie cinema, this fluid tale of love and memory loss doesn’t surprise on a narrative level, as it eventually leads to a revelation that many will spot ahead of time. Yet, despite a protracted and predictably overwrought finale, Lee tosses in an unexpected narrative twist that gives her film a memorable finish.
Jung, who also produced the film, is in comfortable territory as the
dashing and soft-spoken lead. Kim is on point as a character hiding something as she quietly holds back her emotions, while character-actor-of-the-moment, Bae Sung-woo provides welcome comic relief.
Almost a deconstruction of the Korean romantic genre, yet one deeply indebted to the titles it follows, Remember You comes across as a new hybrid of Western and Eastern dramatic sensibilities. Not without its faults, Lee’s concoction may prove challenging at times, but it’s also a film that rewards patience.
BY PIERCE CONRAN (Producer at 2MrFilms, film critic)