Film Review: Au Revoir UFO

   Au Revoir UFO (starring the luminous, late Lee Eun-ju) is one of the most pure examples of an unadulterated romantic comedy.

   The tale, which takes place in a suburb of Seoul where all of it's citizens believe in UFOs, focuses on the chance meeting of a blind woman Kyeung-woo (Lee) and a bus driver (Lee Beom-soo) who is rendered instantly smitten by his passenger's delicate features - she, conversely, finds his home made radio shows (which he plays for the benefit of his captive audience whilst driving his bus) less than charming.

   So, in order to win over the love of his dreams once more, Sang-hyeon creates a new identity ("Pyung-gu") in which to woo Kyeung-woo afresh - as she can't see him, he reasons, she won't be able to tell he's the same goofball from the bus.

   As the pressure of stacked lies begins to mount, Sang-hyeon has to decide whether or not to risk his blossoming relationship by admitting his subterfuge and deception - will she still care for him if she knows that he and the dorky radio DJ are one and the same person?

   Aside from the classically romantic set-up, the film, as is the tendency in South Korean cinema,  is also underpinned by a soaring element of melodrama. Here we discover that, as a child, Kyeung-woo had an encounter with a UFO and, inspired by her tale,  the citizen's of her new home suburb relate their shared experiences too - there's an elated, and community-wide, sense of euphoric empathy to be found here (echoing, in many ways, the likes of Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl or the sentimentality of Frank Capra's features).

   Hardly revolutionary, Au Revoir UFO rarely achieves more than a genial pleasantness - a statement which may sound like faint praise but, in a world in which the calculated cynicism often succeeds and the morally dubious likes of The Act of Killing are trumpeted, Kim Jin-min's rather nice, sincere movie provides an essential antidote. Mirthsome rather than hilarious, genteel rather than challenging, Au Revoir UFO is indeed a pure, and light, romantic comedy which is hardly going to change the world but, in it's heartfelt depiction of humanity, may raise a smile or two. It's often nice sitting back and basking in the glow of something which exists simply to add a touch of positivity to our lives.


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