Melodramas tend to have a pattern in terms of storytelling. "Bimilae (The Secret River)," a new melodrama flick starring Yoo Ji-tae and Yoon Jin-seo, goes a step further by embracing an element of mystery.
"I believe my first feature film will present a new melodrama to Korean audiences," director Ryu Hoon told reporters at a news conference held in Seoul yesterday. "The key difference with other films in the genre is a mystery-induced dramatic tension."
Ryu said the basic plot involves a relationship that is inherently precarious and unstable, but the adoption of a mystery drama will enhance the cinematic experience.
Yoo Ji-tae ("Oldboy") plays two main characters: Jin-woo who lapses into a coma two months after getting married, and his twin brother Jin-ho who comes back to Korea after years abroad.
Yoon Jin-seo`s character is Yeon-i, wife of Jin-woo who finds herself deeply drawn to Jin-ho who has an extremely similar appearance and almost the same voice as her bedridden husband.
The forbidden love itself is not an entirely fresh concept, but unlike other Korean films targeting those interested in melodramas, "The Secret River" inserts a fair amount of action and computer-generated graphics to spice up the otherwise trite storyline.
Yoo said he had difficulty playing the twin brothers. "The twins have differences but similarities. The older brother is conservative while the younger brother is liberal yet opinionated about what he likes. Some might expect very different characters, but I think they are the two sides of the same coin, which confuses Yeon-i a lot," Yoo said.
Yoo said the film has not only cinematic depths but also entertaining elements. "When I first came across the script, I felt it`s going to be an interesting melodrama. Especially those who like watching melodramas will be greatly amused," he said.
Yoon Jin-seo summed up her character with two key words: abandonment and pursuit. "Since her husband falls into a coma, Yeon-i has given up hope on her marriage and it seems like nothing will improve her troubled life," Yoon said. "But that`s only on the surface because deep down inside she has yearnings as a woman who wants passionate relationships."
Yoon said the two-fold aspects of the character have made it difficult for her to present them for the big screen due to the conflicting subtlety.
Yoon, who teams up with Yoo seven years after "Oldboy," said the latest film has offered a rare chance to shed light on the female character`s psychological state. "When I choose a film, I always think about what I really want to watch, and these days there are many movies dedicated to Korean men, but only a few about Korean women," Yoon said. "In this regard, `The Secret River` is one of the few movies depicting how women feel and how they cope," she added.
Director Ryu said that a last-minute plot twist in particular will give a fresh experience to Korean audiences. The film, whose planning and production was started about three years ago, will hit local theaters on March 25.
By Yang Sung-jin