Movie Review – With or Without You (2016)

Not to be mistaken with another Korean movie in 2015 with the same translated title (춘희막이), this movie is about modern day relationship issues between a has-been actress and a budding movie director. With a title that literally means “The CV of Our Relationship”, it chronicles the ups and downs of the lives of Woo Yeon-yi (Jeon Hye-bin) and Oh Seon-jae (Shin Min Cheol).

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Yeon-yi was labelled “Crazy Actress” following a spat on set with a more renowned director, and since then she became the “has-been” actress and teaches acting skills for a livelihood. She marries Seon-jae after a whirlwind courtship, and they divorced almost as immediately as they got married. Seon-jae was an assistant director, and dreams of becoming a full-fledged director one day. The two continues to stay together despite getting divorced, with a convenient excuse of writting a movie script together. The script is built on the basis of their courtship, which eventually led to copyright issues when a big disagreement over the direction of the movie popped up, and Yeon-yi wants to pull out of the project entirely despite being credited as co-scriptwriter.

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Yeon-yi is not afraid to voice her own opinions when she feels her rights are violated, or simply when she’s feeling…the feels. It makes her kind of volatile hence the nickname “Crazy Actress”. It bothers her because she knows she’s nowhere near crazy, but it makes people uncomfortable because she’s too forthright when she has her emotional outbursts.

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Seon-jae gives in to her most of the time, in fact he gives in to others most of the time, which makes Yeon-yi frustrated. But when it comes to achieving his dreams, Seon-jae had to compromise, which was something Yeon-yi couldn’t really comprehend. She saw it as sacrificing her, which led to their big fallout. But eventually she learnt that she still loves Seon-jae, and he realised he too, still loves her, and it’s a happy reunion afterall.

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This being an indie movie, has a slow pace, no villains nor big dramatic moments. It’s all about understanding the sacrifices made in a relationship, understanding yourself and your partner, and understanding how to be a better person. It takes some patience to watch (at least for me) because the story borderlines on being boring at times. But it showcases some good nuanced acting, and the underlying messages about life and love. If you like some artsy slice of life movie, do watch this.

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