“Josée” Movie Review: An unorthodox pure love story

Josée (2020) 
PG / 1h 57mins
Opens 10 Dec / 4.0 ★

Based on the 2003 Japanese box office hit “Josée: The Tiger and The Fish”, the homonymous remake is sombre, and not your typical feel-good Korean movie per se. But a thought-provoking one, no less.

Sharp-eyed viewers might have noticed that the Korean filmmakers shortened the title to “Josée”, to put more emphasis on Josée’s world. Though “The Tiger and The Fish” was taken out, they still get a fair share of appearance throughout the film.

They are metaphorical representations of various elements in the movie. The tiger signifies “nightmares”, Josée’s biggest fear. Fishes trapped in vast aquarium tanks are pretty much Josée herself, as she is trapped in her small hut everyday, as she is physically disabled.

But Han Ji-min, who portrays Josée, hopes that “people will see the movie as a love story with a disabled character but as a love story between Josee and Young-seok.”

That’s not the only thing that changed. Minor twists to the plot were made, or “there would be no value to present something that maps out like the original film to the viewers,” director Kim Kim Jong-kwan says at an online press conference.

The premise of the story, and the emotions of the protagonists, though, stays deep-rooted. 

A fateful encounter between Young-seok (Nam Joo-hyuk) and Josée (Han Ji-min) piqued Young-seok’s interest in Josée. An orphan from young, Josée spends time with her grandma at the outskirts of Seoul, immersing herself into the world of books. The love story between Young-seok and Josée develops.

The plot does not have a climax, nor a big twist. It is, even, a slow one to put focus on their relationship development, giving the audience ample time to get closer to the characters.

Han, too, had difficulty getting into Josée’s world initially. “Josee experiences the world through books and expresses things differently”, she said.

Their relationship might not have ended off with a fairy-tale like “happily ever after”, but neither was it a hateful breakup. If anything, their unorthodox relationship offered comfort to me and presented love in its purest form.

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