[Herald Review] ‘Passion’ loses its way

By 원호정

After great comedic start, ‘You Call It Passion’ falls into trap of preachy cliches

  • Published : Nov 22, 2015 - 17:49
  • Updated : Nov 22, 2015 - 17:49

“You Call It Passion” proclaims to be a “2015 relatable comedy.” And for the first half of the movie, it is.

Do Ra-hui, played by Park Bo-young who starred in blockbuster hits such as “A Werewolf Boy” and “Scandal Makers,” is a young woman fresh out of college who has just landed her first job as a junior entertainment reporter. 

She has high hopes and dreams about being able to support herself, wearing a power suit to work every day and casually introducing herself with her own business card. 

Then she actually goes to work.

The audience will find it easy to relate to the speedy, relentless way in which Ra-hui’s fantasies about working life are shattered in just the first few minutes of her first day. 

She is placed under the supervision of choleric desk editor Ha Jae-gwan (Jung Jae-young of “The Fatal Encounter” and “Confession of Murder”) who seems to make it his personal mission in life to drive his reporters up the wall. 

And every time Jae-gwan demands something that Ra-hui says she can’t do, he tells her the same thing -- she doesn’t have enough “passion.”

Jung Jae-young (left) and Park Bo-young in "You Call It Passion" (NEW)

At a press conference ahead of the premiere, director Jeong Gi-hun said he had Park and Jung in mind for the lead roles as he was writing the script. 

About her fit for the part of Ra-hui, Park said she had always “played parts that were a bit younger” than her actual age and that she was glad to have found a role “that talked about an issue affecting people (her) age.”

Park and Jung are extremely well matched in their roles, and the film probably could have been carried well to the end with just a series of their encounters culminating in a feel-good kind of mutual understanding. 

However, somewhere along the way the story stumbles and falls into a spiraling trap of unrealistic coincidences and situations. 

With the help of an acquaintance, Ra-hui ends up getting an exclusive face-to-face with an enigmatic top actor, and gets a scoop that the actor asks her to bury in exchange for racy photos of him and an actress. 

Ra-hui learns that the actor may be a victim of corrupt practices in the entertainment industry and begins working on an investigative piece that will lay those scandals bare.

With each passing minute, the film sheds both relatability and comedy as it becomes a moralistic commentary on what a journalist “should” be. The apparent goal of the film completely shifts by the end. 

Rather than consoling the modern-day laborers who are pressured into outrageous working conditions in the name of “passion,” the film ends on a note that basically takes the corporate view -- if you work with “passion,” you will move forward and receive recognition. 

Ra-hui does not change the system; she conforms perfectly, and receives acknowledgment for it. 

“You Call It Passion” begins with laughs and is carried through by a fail-proof cast including names like Oh Dal-soo, Bae Sung-woo and Jin Gyeong in supporting roles, but loses its way and winds up -- quite annoyingly -- doing the opposite of what it had set out to do.

“You Call It Passion” opens in local theaters Wednesday.

By Won Ho-jung (hjwon@heraldcorp.com)