The break-up of a relationship is an oft explored area in television, yet in film the realism of such events tends to be eschewed in favor of either a dramatic arena of affairs and/or substance abuse, or the catalyst for comical shenanigans in an attempt to cope with the loss. The financial motivations behind such decisions are understandable, given that their success is dependent on the detachment from reality and the predictable pleasures they provide. Yet, what of the relationships where the love and passion simply dissipate?
Come Rain Come Shine (사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다), literally translated as ‘I Love You, I Don’t Love You’, is a mediation on the breakdown of a couple and is a slow, thought-provoking film that poignantly conveys the emotional turmoil they experience during their final day together. The film was (rather unfairly) criticised upon release for the slow paced narrative and the lack of events therein, yet in the attempt to convey realism director Lee Yoon-ki (이윤기) has produced a calm and moderated exploration that deviates from typical audience expectations.
Driving his wife Yeong-shin (Im Soo-jeong (임수정) to Gimpo Airport, Ji-seok (Hyeon Bin (현빈) engages in small talk despite the strangely tense atmosphere between them. After the conversation runs dry, Yeong-shin announces that she is leaving him and will be shortly moving out of their home. Worse still is that she has been seeing another man, a fact she accuses Ji-seok of knowing but ignoring. Bizarrely, Ji-seok appears quiet but unfazed. Days later, Yeong-shin is packing her belongings at home while Ji-seok attempts to make the dissolution of their marriage easier by making coffee, preparing dinner, and helping with the packing. As they awkwardly converse and reminisce over items, Yeong-shin and Ji-seok discover the emotional distress and difficulty in the finality of their marriage.
The themes of alienation and loneliness are conveyed by director Lee Yoon-ki (이윤기) with incredible sensitivity and confidence throughout Come Rain Come Shine, as he allows the tense atmosphere created by the mise-en-scene to portray the hardship the couple endure rather than relying on melodrama. This focus on realism is enhanced further by his continual use of long takes which makes the tension between the central protagonists palpable. The opening scene in which Ji-seok drives Yeong-shin to the airport is a long take approximately eight minutes in length, conveying the search for small talk and the awkward silences as features of their relationship which now lacks intimacy and spontaneity. The realism conveyed through the voyeuristic gaze makes for slightly uncomfortable viewing due to their lack of communication and the resulting tension, playing upon the audience’s expectations that a confrontation must occur to disrupt the calm yet strained atmosphere. However as the take is so long, Lee Yoon-ki lulls audience into a false sense of stability which then serves to enhance the shock of Yeong-shin’s announcement she will leave her husband for another man.
Later at the house, Yeong-shin packs her belongings ready to vacate and leave Ji-seok. The house itself is an incredible element of the mise-en-scene due the various floors that are present, with Lee Yoon-ki utilizing it to convey how the couple are exist on different levels, drift apart, and come together. Each floor, and each room, is unique in portraying the internal conflict within both protagonists, such as Yeong-shin’s isolated higher-tiered office compared with the basement which contains memories over which they reminisce, functioning as the foundation for the house as well as their relationship. The lighting within the house is incredible as the muted tones and lack of colour drain the emotion and passion from the environment, painstakingly exemplifying the numbness within Ji-seok and Yeong-shin. In addition the torrential downpour of rain throughout conveys the sadness both within the protagonists and of the event itself, which ironically forces the couple to communicate and spend more time together as nature seemingly desires the pair try once more – a feature that Lee Yoon-ki respects audiences, whether optimistic or pessimistic, to decide for themselves.
The performances of Im Soo-jeong as Yeong-sin and Hyeon Bin as Ji-seok came under scrutiny upon the release of Come Rain Come Shine which, when taken into consideration that melodrama is enormous popular in Korea, is understandable yet unfair. Both high-profile actors are incredibly talented with a catalogue of successful films and dramas, yet Come Rain Come Shine is a drastic departure from the roles – and expectations – of their previous work. The subtlety contained within their facial expressions and mannerisms conveys the abundance of emotional turmoil contained within. Im Soo-jeong initially projects a cold and heartless persona, yet her desire for passion and love from her highly reserved husband and her reluctance to leave tenderly present themselves as the finality of their situation becomes more apparent. Hyeon Bin is also charismatic in his role as while his quiet and humble nature is continually present, the moments in which he is alone reveal the overwhelming sadness that threatens to engulf him. Despite this he feels incapable of changing the situation yet his chivalry and kindness indicate his desperation to resolve the conflict.
Come Rain Come Shine is a tender, thought-provoking, and sensitive portrayal of the final moments in the break-down of a marriage. Due to the slow-paced and meditative filmic style of director Lee Yoon-ki, the film will not satisfy audiences with expectations of melodrama and comedy, or an amalgamation thereof. However, the realism conveyed through the masterful use of mise-en-scene and long takes, in conjunction with the subtle and highly poignant performances, make Come Rain Come Shine a powerful film about the tenderness of loss.
I’m looking forward to watching this film.
Not everyone enjoys slow-paced films, and while that is fine, I think sometimes those people forget that they shouldn’t watch certain films…. this sounds like one of those films that is suitable for only a specific audience, but that more people will watch (and then complain about) because certain actors are in it.
To me, on the basis of what I’ve seen (trailer) and what you describe, this film sounds just right up my alley 🙂
Thank you for reading Alua! I agree with you, not everyone enjoys watching slow-paced films and that’s why Come Rain, Come Shine received a lot of negativity, although it is quite undeserved – the film is a wonderfully sensitive portrayal of the breakdown of a relationship, and that takes time to establish. Certain members of the audience watched it to see Hyeon-bin in a similar romantic role to the one he played in Secret Garden, and were disappointed, but they are completely different genres.
I hope you enjoy the film! 🙂
Now that I’ve seen the film, I can say we had audience members who (seemingly) weren’t too happy with Hyeon Bin’s role either. One person asked Lee Yoon-ki had cast Hyeon if he is only known for “playboy” roles otherwise. I thought both Hyeon and Im were wonderful in their roles.
That’s so odd…do they want Hyeon-bin – or any other actor for that matter – to play the same roles over and over? Strange logic. I agree with you, both Hyeon-bin and Im Soo-jeong were tremendous and gave arguably their most mature and intimate performances of their respective careers.
I thought it was, ermmm, a rather ridiculous question. First, because I also don’t understand why anyone would want to typecast an actor that has a wider range than a single role and secondly, because I thought it was a little offensive towards the director. Anyone who has watched any of Lee Yoon-ki’s films knows that he doesn’t cast actors to please the fans and obviously he thought that Hyeon Bin was capable of portraying the character.
Lee very diplomatically answered that perhaps that audience member hadn’t yet watched all of Hyeon Bin’s work because he has played some other roles.
Honestly, I’m quite in awe when filmmakers are able to make films based on very little – I get that that’s not everyone’s kind of thing, but I wish people would stop to think for a moment WHY film makers sometimes use techniques of that sort, why there is slow-pacing. That such techniques can have a symbolic or metaphorical significance, that sometimes they may serve to make the viewer experience the awkwardness/frustration/(etc.) that a character is feeling.
I recently watched Visconti’s 1974 “Death in Venice”, which is considered a masterpiece, but I’m pretty sure the average audience nowadays would not be able to handle watching it. No dialogue for the first 8 minutes or so. Plenty of other moments when there is silence, and generally it’s a reflective film – very little happens.
Not sure when I will get to see Come Rain Come Shine – hopefully sooner rather than later!