MIFF 2015: My Love, Don’t Cross That River

MIFF 2015: My Love, Don’t Cross That River

The Melbourne International Film Festival is here again and I’ve been tasked to write a review on one of the screenings. I must say it’s a perk to get to keep up with the festivals given my field of study, especially in Melbourne, where one pops up almost every month throughout the year.

Scrolling through the list of films, I stumbled upon a Korean one titled ‘My Love, Don’t Cross That River‘. After watching the trailerwhich left me in smiles, I knew right away that I had to see this one.

Although I don’t consider myself a movie junkie, I’ve always enjoyed watching human interest documentaries and this one drew me in – not because it was Korean, but because it focuses on the lives of an elderly couple dubbed the “gray-haired youths” in South Korea, whose fondness for each other remains unchanged for over seven decades.

If you’re a firm believer that romantic relationships will eventually die off as a couple grows old, you’d have to think again. This film portrays that happily ever after in fairy tales do exist and the key to eternal love is simply keeping several things constant  – continuous understanding, devotion and sacrifice.
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The characters in this real-life movie are comparable to the inseparable couple, Jack and Rose in Titanic. They’ll go nowhere without each other. The only difference between the two, however, is that the realness (i.e. lack of dramatisation) makes it more emotionally jolting and heart-rending, especially towards the end. I made a mistake of not carrying any tissues with me that by the end of the movie the sleeves of my cardigan were soaking wet.

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(From right) Producer Han Kyung-soo & Director Jin Mo-young

Among the audience on the screening night was also director Jin Mo-young and producer Han Kyung-soo. Really honoured to have met the people behind this independent production which raked in more than US$34 million at the box office.

On his successful film-making debut, director Jin shared that he had filmed the couple on his own – yes just him and a camera – for 15 months. After watching Grandma Kang Gye-Yeol (89) and Grandpa Jo Byeong-Man (98) on a TV documentary program (which I believe was KBS’ Screening Humanity), he wanted to find out more about the couple and unravel “the secret” behind their strong bond.

Little did he know his intended objective for the film would take a major turn as “halbeoji” (grandpa) kept getting weaker and frailer.

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My Love, Don’t Cross That River‘ is truly one of a kind. It may have been just another couple’s journey through life and mortality, but the director’s efforts in recording the little things they do to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company is what makes this film bittersweet and memorable. It is this, along with the intimate elements (scenes of them goofing around with each other, the affectionate gestures like complimenting each other and holding hands in their sleep) that built up to the grieving yet heartfelt ending.

I’m certain no one left the cinema with dry eyes.

I urge everyone to watch it if you’re in for an emotional ride. You’ll smile, laugh and cry watching the two lovebirds and their sprightly antics.

Overall, a wonderful documentary that teaches you love doesn’t require huge efforts. It’s the small things that add up to a fiery romance, even beyond the wrinkles. I’ll definitely watch it again and be better prepared next time. If you do catch it, remember one thing – tissues!

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This post was originally published on my old blog, www.theopenscrapbook.wordpress.com.

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