Korea has a reputation for crazy/extreme cinema but that’s hardly the sum of it. I’m dying to hear more from Cafe Noir‘s Jung Sung, for example. In the meantime, however, the LA Film Festival presents us with the super-quiet divorce drama Come Rain, Come Shine (Saranghanda, saranghaji anneunda).

A young unnamed couple are separating. We find this out in the long long single hood-mounted shot that opens the film. She drops the news almost casually; his reaction is so non-existent that we wonder for a moment if we heard right. But this sets us up for the film’s remarkably subdued tone: the rest plays out on rainy Sunday afternoon/evening, entirely in their handsome apartment, as they consider whether or not to go to dinner in the torrential rain, find a lost kitten, are visited by their neighbours looking for the same and, occasionally, discuss their impending break-up after five years of marriage.

He remains apparently not bothered by the imminent departure of his wife, terminally OK about everything, carefully packing some china for her, suggesting she call her lover to arrange things. He admits to sharing blame for the end of their relationship; she calls that selfish. And that’s as pointed as it gets; they let it drop. For the rest, they wander slowly about their apartment, carefully make dinner, look out of windows, and suppress their emotions completely. One wonders why she is not mad that he is not mad, not trying to hold on to her? Apparently he isused to her unwavering resolutions, so anger would change nothing; we learn little else about the past of their relationship, but it has clearly been a comfortable, possibly happy one, as they work together with the ease of habit in the kitchen, and converse with complete, intimate understanding.

Leads Bin Hyun and Lim Su-jeong are to be credited with conveying character and feeling with the minimal detail made available to them (he, incidentally, is a superhot star at home, and just started his marines conscription, Elvis style). Their intimacy and peaceful interaction is itself enough to evoke the melancholy and mourning of a relationship’s end. When he finally cracks, it takes the form of complete inaction; downstairs she tells the kitten that everything will be alright, as though it will be so for more than just the cat. We have no idea what her conception of alright may be in terms of her relationship, and from their comfort together we wonder if perhaps a divorce will not go ahead after all, but he has, apparently, been OK with her having a lover for some time, so probably not. So everything will be alright because it already has been.

Drama is removed: the film is a mood piece, concentrating on the actors’ baleful miens and fetishising their smart apartment, juxtaposing the gloom of the indrawing, rain-drenched evening with occasional (and semi-superfluous) shots of the same in bright morning sunlight. It’s a dangerous game to play: the script gives us little, and little expression of feeling, but the direction goes full out for that dolefulness. The understatement is almost fatal, but the leads are quietly captivating (plus, both are gorgeous), rhythm and pacing are seductive, with an occasionally sinuous camera, and DP Jang Hyeong-wook beautifully captures the dim, bathetic light of a long wet Sunday afternoon, with a real feeling of subdued sadness and acceptance. Not quite satisfying, but improbably gripping.

Rating:  7.56/10

See the trailer below.