Life Is Beautiful [Insaeng-eun Areumdaweo] — Korean Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

When Se-yeon (Yum Jung-ah) learns that she has just two months to live, her invisibility to her husband, Jin-bong (Seung-ryong Ryu); daughter, Ye-jin (Kim Da-in); and son, Seo-jin (Ha Hyun-sang), comes crashing in on her, and she finds herself longing for some of the joys she has never experienced — above all, to feel loved before she dies.

By roundabout means, Se-yeon persuades Jin-bong to take her to find her first love, and thus the two of them commence a journey filled with the unexpected, refreshing their memories of and appreciation for their lives together.

Well-paced, with deeply moving scenes and many funny moments, Life Is Beautiful brings the viewer to appreciate Se-yeon as nobody in her world seems to — and conveys the urgency of truly living.  We even find that Jin-bong, who at the outset shows (for reasons that never become apparent) no tenderness toward Se-yeon, has (for reasons that may or may not be realistic) become by the film’s end somebody with whom we can sympathise.

Life Is Beautiful is filmed with an eye for a beautiful scene, including shots of unexpected dance numbers from unusual angles.  As well, its soundtrack was put together with an ear for a beautiful song: the film includes some ten songs, every one of which could easily be at least a minor hit.

You may like to bring a tissue along; but you won’t regret seeing it.  It will in fact leave you feeling more deeply that life is beautiful.

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