When eight-year-old Ji-ho’s mother passed away she left him with a story, a sweet tale which sees a departed mother penguin return to her little one for a few weeks when the rain season comes. Believing this impossible promise to be true, the boy (Kim Ji-hwan) waits impatiently for the day the first drops fall, as his father Woo-jin (So Ji-sub) does his best to take care of him. When the long-awaited day finally arrives, Ji-ho runs as fast as he can to the designated meeting place with his father in tow.
They wait, and wait, and wait, until finally they can wait no longer. Dejected, Ji-ho and his father start to make their way back home, only to find Soo-a (Son Ye-jin) right there in front of them – real, but with her memories completely erased. Woo-jin can’t believe his eyes, how can the love of his life really be there? But, with Ji-ho so excited to see his mother again, he decides to shelve his doubts and take her back to their house. They start to spend more time together, and Soo-a starts to ask more questions about their life together, even he starts to believe that maybe this could really be happening after all.
So Ji-sub and Son Ye-jin have great chemistry on screen as the married couple. Where the former is awkward and nervous, the other is curious and reliable, and they make the perfect pair as they raise Ji-ho the best way they can. What is really touching, though, is the way in which we discover how their relationship came to be. First through Woo-jin’s eyes, and then later in Soo-a’s point of view, the couple grow from clumsy teens to even clumsier adults but their love for each other knows no bounds. Ji-ho also proves to have a strong bond with them, and newcomer Kim Ji-hwan has a natural talent for acting that is sure to make him a bright star in the future.
Be with You is a deeply touching, well-written story from first-time director Lee Jang-hoon, who expertly adapts Takuji Ichikawa’s novel of the same name and translates it to a Korean setting. Bringing together a wealth of talented actors for his debut, Lee takes the story and makes it his own, proving to have a keen eye for creating a narrative that will both delight and move the audience. The film can be split into two sections: The love story of Woo-jin and Soo-a, and the bond between Soo-a and Ji-ho. Both are remarkably poignant and they are given equal importance on screen, as an audience we can’t help but be moved as they story unfolds before us, even more so because we know how things are set to end.
Directors: Lee Jang-hoon
Release: 25 April 2018 (Korean Cultural Centre: LKFF teaser screening), 27 April 2018 (Udine Far East Film Festival)
From: Lotte Entertainment
Format: Theatrical release
Age Rating: 15
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