Film Review: You're My Pet (No-neun Pet)

   You're My Pet, starring the always delightful Kim Ha-Neul, is the very definition of a standard, modern South Korean Romantic Comedy. Which, considering it began life as a Japanese manga before spawning a television series, is an oddity. Though, it must be said, this peculiarity is not half as bizarre as the premise of the movie itself.

   Kim Ha-Neul plays Eun-Yi, a fashion writer who, like all cinematic female journalists, is somewhat down on her luck in love. Since her dog, Momo, passed away, the affection in her life has dwindled significantly.

   So when, through various contrivances and eccentric behaviour by all concerned, Eun-Yi is presented with the opportunity to adopt a lost puppy of a younger man (Jang Keung-suk) to become a surrogate pet she embraces it with only mild apprehension. Rules are set and clear master/companion roles are defined - aside from not raiding the fridge for ice cream, the most important one is that the dog should never consider himself as a potential boyfriend. Of course, as happens with these scenarios, their (possibly bestial?) affection for one another grows; a symptom of their combined self-imposed Stockholm Syndrome.

   As previously mentioned, the set-up is remarkably South Korean in nature. As the country has rapidly liberalised over the last fifty years, and moved away from Confucian patriarchy, gender roles in the nation have been questioned. It is not unusual in cinema to see South Korean women represented as much tougher and more dominant than their male counterparts; the men are often emasculated and meek. As such, although the story originated in Japan, the themes (and the absurdist set-up) could well have been conceived in the Land of the Morning Calm.

   Sadly, however, as with all Korean comedies of this type (including Kim Ha-Neul's My Girlfried in as Agent) , it is impossible not to judge them in the shadow of the sublime My Sassy Girl. So, whereas Kim Byeong-gon's feature occasionally raises a mirthful (or confused) smile, belly laughs are never threatened. Similarly, the romantic elements of the film never take flight either meaning that, ultimately, You're My Pet is pleasant but never passionate, and (like most movies of its ilk) remains destined to pale into insignifance in comparison with the great works of Kwak Jae-Yong .

   Not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination but, unfortunately, not a particularly good one either.

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