Haepi-endeu (1999) Happy End
Directed by Ji Woo Chung
Starring Min-sik Choi, Do-yeon Jeon, Jin-mo Ju
This is one hell of a film, we start off with a couple meeting up for an extremely passionate session. Switch to a middle aged man sitting in a second hand book store thumbing through some romantic novels, the owner of the shop asks him if hes going to buy the book hes reading, the man Min-ki says no, because to him A real love story, its so sad it breaks your heart and the book wasnt good enough.
Why should I quote what Min-ki said? Because I think its one of the most important lines in the film, people comment that the film despite its title doesnt have a happy ending, Id say for Min-ki it has a literal (in every sense of the word) Happy End.
It turns out that the couple we first met are old lovers, the passion is red hot but the problem is, the woman Bo-ra is married to Min-ki and they have a baby daughter. Bo-ra works at a school for teaching English as does her lover. Min-ki a former banker is unemployed and gives the impression that hes more than happy spending his days in the book shop and his evenings watching soaps. Hes pretty useless around the house too leaving most of the work for his wife; he comes across as lazy and uncaring so its no real wonder that Bo-ra is having an affair.
But not everything is as it seems, the overall story has started before we join it and Min-ki is aware of more than he lets on and is not the tame cuckold we are lead to believe. Little fragments of evidence add up and another important change occurs in the bookshop as he switches from reading romance to mystery novels.
Bo-ra on the other hand is finding her lover a little too clingy despite the fact that she is incredibly possessive with him and wants a break to put some effort into her marriage. But its too late, the plans are in motion and a few more nudges are all Min-ki needs to finish it.
What follows is one of the most brutally realistic totally premeditated murder scenes I can remember seeing, again Ive read reviews and comments suggesting he lost it and flipped, no chance! Everything he does is very carefully planned, not only the murder but also the incrimination of his wifes lover as the killer, there are tears after but these are the tears of his sad, broken hearted Happy End not tears of remorse. He is left with the one thing he does care about, his daughter, the strange thing about that is the baby probably isn't even his!
End of spoiler alert
Brilliant acting from the two leads, a well thought out if somewhat controversial plot and definitely only suitable for adults.
I thought it was excellent but give it a cautious recommendation.
No BBFC rating but without a doubt an 18.