Dubbing actress Eun-kyeong (Lee Sun (이선) is a successful artist, yet a struggling single mother. Her teenage son Hoon (Kim Yu-bin (김유빈) shows little regard for his mother’s concerns, staying out late at PC cafes instead of coming home and eating lovingly prepared meals. Sun-kyeong’s stress about the issue becomes so fervent that insomnia arises and begins to effect her work, causing anxiety amongst her colleagues. Strangely however, ex-husband Sang-min (Im Hak-soon (임학순) has a good relationship with Hoon, and the two work together to plan a birthday surprise for Eun-kyeong. Yet when Eun-kyeong’s health takes a turn for the worst Sang-min is compelled to return, forcing them to confront the issues in their relationship.
Sensitively composed and particularly timely, director Lee Sang-min’s Warm After All is heartfelt film exploring the nature of love, tragedy and trauma. Through Eun-kyeong, an intelligent, successful and attractive career woman who seemingly has it all, director Lee interrogates the manner in which emotional and psychological anguish can manifest during the healing process without the proper support. The film is very much a gentle character study, with actress Lee Sun’s compelling performance inferring the depth of Eun-kyeong’s suffering potently as well as providing an absorbing and resonating emotional narrative core.
While the first half of Warm After All interestingly explores Eun-kyeong’s – and to a lesser extent ex-husband Sang-min’s – psychological disposition, the narrative takes an excessive amount of time to reach what is ultimately a rather predictable plot device. Wisely director Lee employs it around the halfway point and from there the film gains more traction and poignancy as the divorced couple support each other during the healing process, conveying their frailties through well-framed shots and the effective use of beautiful Jeju Island landscapes.
Yet rather than deeply explore the internal conflicts and hardships plaguing them, or the ways in which the estranged couple come to accept and deal with reality, Warm After All instead portrays Eun-kyeong and Sang-min’s path to stability somewhat romantically which is a misstep. Certain scenes, notably that of Sang-min’s preparation of a tent for Eun-kyeong while she sleeps, are tenderly crafted and moving, however in skipping over the depths of such a pivotal and central theme the overall power and emotional resonance of the narrative is significantly lessened.
Warm After All is a sensitive and timely drama about love, tragedy and anguish by director Lee Sang-min. The film depicts emotional and psychological trauma with sincerity although only manages to become truly engaging at the half way stage, yet even then struggles to explore the depths of trauma and the healing process. Warm After All is an affecting yet slight examination of love and loss.