Always – Is This What it Feels Like to Truly Love?
Jang Cheol-Min (So Ji-Sub) works as a water delivery boy by delivering water into offices. Lately, he picks up a part time job as a parking lot attendant as the old man who worked there before him plans on moving to another city. So he sits in his tiny tollbooth one night and is staring mindlessly at the small television when someone barges into his booth.
Cheol-Min is startled to find out that it is a woman, and even more surprised when she just automatically sits on the other chair next to him as she shove fruits and other snacks onto his hands. Cheol-Min is too stunned to say anything, that is when the woman realizes that this is not the old man that she usually hangs out with every night.
The woman then proceeded to introduces herself as Ha Jung-Hwa (Han Hyo-Joo), and she tells Cheol-Min that she usually come to the booth every night to watch Korean drama with the old man that worked here before him.
And since that night, Jung-Hwa constantly come back to the booth to watch the same television series with Cheol-Min. She constantly asks Cheol-Min questions about what is happening in the tv show, that is when he realizes that Jung-Hwa is blind. Slowly but surely, Cheol-Min finds himself falling in love with Jung-Hwa, only to find out about the past that could destroy their relationship forever.
A Sneak Peek Into The Story :
While I am a big stickler for romance movie, I have long grown past the boy-meets-girl kind of movie. These days when I am looking for movie to watch, I find myself needing movies that has a twist or an unpredictable plot that makes me go, “holy crap, totally didn’t see that one coming”.
However, a few weeks earlier I was watching a movie called The Battlefield Island, it is a movie that is starred by So Ji Sub and after watching that movie, I just have this weird feeling of wanting to watch more of him as his air time in that movie is rather short in my opinion. That, and also the fact that I have been watching a lot of thriller movies lately and I need to shake things up with a little bit of romance that made me decide on watching “Always”.
Jang Cheol-Min (So Ji Sub) is a man with a dark and mysterious past. He basically keeps to himself and doesn’t have a lot of friends. He lives a simple life, during the day, he delivers water into offices and at night he works as parking lot attendant. On his first day at work, he’s not expecting to have a woman barge into his booth and instantly start talking and handing him food as if they have known each other for a while.
When he tells her he has no idea who she is, she was surprised and agrees that his voice is different from the old man she used to hang out with. She introduces herself as Ha Jung-Hwa (Han Hyo-Joo). She tells Cheol-Min that she come here often, bring snacks and drinks to watch tv shows with the man that worked here before him, which Cheol-Min replies to nonchalantly.
Feeling that she is not welcomed, Jung-Hwa apologizes for interrupting and decides to go home. Outside, it is pouring rain as Jung-Hwa continues to wait for a cab. Already realizing that Jung-Hwa is blind and feeling bad for her having to wait in the rain, Cheol-Min run out of his booth and decides to ask her to stay for an episode of the tv show. And as her token of thanks, she shares her snacks and drinks with him as they watch the show together.
And that is how it starts, from that night on, Jung-Hwa continues to come to the booth every night to watch tv show together with Cheol-Min. Cheol-Min not only doesn’t seem to mind when she constantly asks him about some scenes that is happening in the show or will sometimes talk about something else while they are watching the show, he instead finds himself slowly warming up to Jung-Hwa and even gets to the point where he gets excited at the thought of Jung-Hwa coming to watch tv show with him.
I totally adore the chemistry that is going on between So Ji Sub and Han Hyo-Joo. While So Ji Sub is a very talented actor, but it is Han Hyo-Joo that sold it for me. Setting aside her obvious physical charms, it is her expressions, her body language and her tone of voice. I like how with her inability to see, she is more attuned and sensitive to what is going on around her. There is definitely an undeniable charm in her innocence and her girl-next-door appeal. Even while she is playing a character who is blind, she somehow is still able to make you forget about her disabilities and make fall in love with her character.
After hanging out with Jung-Hwa for sometime, it seems to spark something in Cheol-Min and he decides to visit his former boxing mentor, Choi (Kang Shin-Il). Choi is livid at the sight of him and orders him to leave immediately. Cheol-Min keeps on apologizing to Choi and tells him that he is planning on focusing on boxing once again and asks Choi to mentor him. Choi is reluctant to do so at first remembering that 4 years ago Cheol-Min just suddenly disappeared with no way to contact him after Choi put in so much effort and money to train him, but after Cheol-Min’s nonstop apology, Choi decides to give him another chance.
As Cheol-Min starts to get into the hang of starting boxing again, he also realizes that his relationship with Jung-Hwa is also slowly but steadily developing. They continues to spend more and more time together, until both of them realizes that they both has feelings for each other and decides to date and move in together. By this time, Cheol-Min has quit his jobs and start to focus more on boxing and participate in fights. He is also able to earn more now than he did before, and with that he decides to get Jung-Hwa a dog to protect her when he isn’t around. However, this happiness is short lived.
One day, when Jung-Hwa is doing her laundry, she finds herself unable to perceive light and shadows as well as she usually can. She immediately goes for a check up and her doctor tells her that while now she is still able to perceive light, she might go totally blind if she doesn’t not have a cornea replacement soon. Jung-Hwa has known for sometime that there is someone who is willing to donor their corner to her, but because it will cost a lot of money, she chooses to hide it from Cheol-Min. When Cheol-Min hears about this, he is totally distressed and is determined to get enough money so that Jung-Hwa can have her cornea replaced no matter what.
Kudos to So Ji Sub to be able to portray Cheol-Min so wonderfully. I haven’t watched a lot of his works yet, but from watching him in The Battleship Island, and now in this movie, I am convinced that he definitely can act. I love how he is able to show so much emotions through his eyes alone, and that is exactly what he did in this movie. The character he plays in this movie is more of a quiet, and socially awkward one, and even though he does not talk about his emotions a lot, you can definitely see him show his undeniable yearning and love for Jung-Hwa through his facial expression alone.
The Verdict :
“Always” is a movie that brilliantly captures the ironies and coincidences that life offers. While the plot and conversations might be predictable, there is not one time where the scenes in this movie feels forced or out of place. The leads are both incredibly likable, watching their relationship develop into something passionate and sweet is as heartwarming as it is enjoyable to watch. I am totally in love with this movie. The premise of this movie is simple, but it’s the development of feeling of both leads that captures my attention and the way that they are able to bring out the emotions of the characters that they are portraying.
This is the kind of movie that will stay with you even long after you watched it. Not only the brilliant acting skills, but the cinematic aspects of “Always” are simply captivating, but in the subtlest ways. The director, Song Il Gon is a masterful storyteller who takes into consideration even the smallest nuances of each scene. It never stops to astound me how director Song Il-Gon is able to capture the nuance of this movie so perfectly and keep the viewers captivated and waiting on the edge of their seat wondering how the story will end. While “Always” is mainstream romance, it is definitely refreshing and different in it’s own ways.