Movie Review: Sky and Ocean (2009)

Hello Haveners! Wow, it’s been such a long time since I posted here so I’m glad I can finally present you guys a post. Our lovely tinysunbl asked me if this review can be posted here in Haven, and of course I said of course. The one posted here is the shortened version, if you can say, because the original is very long (a little over 1700 words to be exact). So for the comfort of you eyes and boosums, I present to you the short(er) version of my Sky and Ocean review! If you have the patience to read the full version, please head on over here. Enjoy!

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Believe it or not this movie was premiered back in October 2009 and download links were only up just this weekend. So was it worth the wait?

The movie opens in a cute little apartment filled with stars as Haneul (Jang Nara) “conducts” her cat, Beatles, in her living room. Right from the start we realize that Haneul is not an ordinary person, in a good way and in a bad way. The good way is that she is a genius in numbers and the violin. The bad way is that she is mentally only 6 years old and is an orphan. She identifies herself as a fairy and her apartment as a fairyland. The scene then shifts a concert where Bada (Jyuni) is seen dancing along with the music. She is a college student who wanted to succeed in a band but lost motivation as her parents are abandoning her. On the other hand Jingyu (Yoo Ah-in), a ne’er-do-well pizza delivery guy, decides to scam Haneul by charging a pizza $100. The story goes through the development of each character as they become better people. I personally think it’s safe to say that the story mainly rotates around Haneul who is the person that united the three characters together. In the end Haneul, who lived a confined life guided by only her violin teacher, gains true friends and starts performing violin in front of a crowd. Bada learns that her dad still cared for her by leaving the apartment for her. Jingyu becomes a technician, something he is good at, and finally (at least what it seems) leaves his stealing, scamming ways for good.

Did that synopsis sound really crappy? Well, that’s pretty much how I saw this movie and pretty much reflects my attitude towards this movie. Usually when a movie has a character like Haneul, someone with a disability and later on manages to overcome those obstacles, one would automatically think that this movie will be somewhat inspiring. At the end of the 100 minutes, I was feeling more empty than I did before I clicked play. Yes, even the cuteness that is Mr. Yoo couldn’t save it from drowning. The storyline was bland and was probably written with a manual to writing an “inspirational” script. The acting was good, but didn’t wow me. The camerawork was okay, but some scenes question me. The directing was choppy. I mean what’s up with the 5 minutes of Jang floating in white space? I know it’s supposed to represent how her mind perceives the world when she’s listening to music or whatever, but it could’ve been cut down a little shorter and a little less like an advertisement. I felt really uncomfortable watching it.

A major problem, okay maybe not so major but a big one at least, that I found in this movie is the character development. I felt that it was very forced and I didn’t feel like they even developed at all, at least in a natural sense. As viewers we didn’t see them overcome conflict to become the person they are at the end. For example, Bada didn’t trust Haneul at all and thought she was a lunatic in the beginning and a few Wons on the home shopping channel and a car ride later, she treated Haneul like a best friend. I know it’s supposed to tell us that she has opened her heart to this “lunatic” but acting like they’ve been besties since pre-K is uncool. But the worst development, I think, is Jingyu. A flashback made him quit his stealing habit that he had for years for good? You have got to be kidding me. I feel like this character was written for the sole purpose of female viewers out there, myself included. Yoo Ah-in is supposed to be the eye candy. Who cares if his character development sucks. They know that the ladies love turning a bad boy into a sweet angel in a snap and that’s what they decided to do. Boo, writers, boo.

Aside from the poor character development, I found that the characters are very shallow. They only show one emotion at a time, like their hearts and judgements are an open book. This isn’t meant to be a serious movie or anything but flat characters turn me off. It was so flat that I was questioning myself why I even bothered watching this movie. (The answer is solely for Yoo Ah-in, of course). I’m not saying the acting was bad, it was good to say the least, but how the characters were written is frustrating. I was even rooting for the pizza owner more who didn’t even have a storyline, played by Lee Won-jong who I can never watch with a straight face again since Dasepo Naughty Girls. At least he was sincere and believable.

At the end of the day this movie isn’t all horrendous, even though it is really hard for me to pinpoint one excellent thing about it. But amongst the mediocre, there are some goods. I really appreciate how they extensively play classical music, which is always good. The locations are also very pretty. Almost as pretty as the actors themselves. Despite the really bad writing, the actors actually managed to make this movie somewhat entertaining to watch. The producers are smart, there are the right people for each demographics: pedophiles men who love a cutesy Jang Nara, boys who love the sexy Jyuni, and every girl and woman who loves Yoo Ah-in. At the end of the day, the world is fair.

I was really disappointed by this movie. There are just so many things that could have been. No wonder it was pulled off from theaters prematurely. The premise sounded promising and the actors are great at what they do (God bless their souls), but these things can’t help the poor storyline and choppy directing. What a shame. And to answer the question I gave in the above, no it wasn’t worth the wait. The final verdict? I gave it so because I thought it was watchable, I wasn’t restless in my seat, but it was uninspiring despite the premise. It was too sweet for comfort and doesn’t give any health benefits, and I like sweets so it says a lot. I will be a little evil today and give it a 5. Maybe on other days it could be a 6 but I doubt it because, well, I won’t even watch it again. Maybe just skip to the parts with Mr. Yoo in it ;D

Final verdict: 5/10

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: Sky and Ocean (2009)

  1. This film was made to highlight that mentally handicapped can interact and give something worthwhile to the ‘normal’ society. And this is Korea we talking about where they still think you can cure being gay by taking a pill, and that about the highlight of their awareness and acceptance of mental illness/conditions of all kinds. It is very much a freelance effect more suited to film festivals than mainstream comical Films, indeed it was pretty well made with Jang Nara own money and her father took over as producer when the film stalled half way in its making. Both the film and the lead, Jang Nara got nominations that year at the Korean film awards, but this was not a blessing, as it lead to the film getting attacked for no fault of its own and indeed in the end they decided to pull the film from Korea altogether in protest. Instead Jang Nara returned to China where she been based for many years and when it was released there with the understanding that all profit would go to charity, she later won best actress in a foreign film for her role in it. And it also got a special merit award at a European film festival.
     I not saying that the faults mention in your review are wrong, indeed I also thought the male lead was a more a third wheel and could have easily been cut altogether and not really change the story all that much. but it still a special film because at lest they tried to make a film on a subject pretty much taboo in not only Korea but many other Asian countries as well and it was done not with the idea of making a lot of money but with honest concern and hope. That is what i got from the film was the innocence and belief of Haneul overcoming the hurt of the other two and bringing them into her world and opening their hearts, so I didnt care if the direction was off or whatever…:-)
    Ow and Jang Nara was born 1981 and lost 9kg to get the waif look, though she is a famous baby face.

    • This wasn’t stated in this particular version of my reviews, but the biggest reason I was disappointed with this movie is because I study psychology. I am aware that in movies things need to move at a different pace compared to real life, but coming from my background it’s a little tricky. Maybe that’s why I’m being a little more picky than I should be. Also, because I know Korean cinemas are capable of producing substantial works involving special-needs people (ever watched Marathon?).

      I’m just glad someone else likes this movie. It’ll be horrible if no one likes it at all. It just isn’t my type of movie, that’s all.

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