A few weeks ago I recapped the one episode drama special Why I’m Getting Married, which explored the relationship between a couple on the verge of marriage after six years of dating. It immediately made me think of the film Lovers of Six Years for obvious reasons. And with this blog long overdue for a movie recap, I decided to check it out. It’s certainly different in tone than Why I’m Getting Married, but overall I think they convey the same message on the importance of couples staying connected in order to make a long-term relationship last. I must say I liked the drama special slightly more than I liked this film even though Lovers of Six Years had much better execution. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a happy ending.
Title(s): Lovers of Six Years, Six Years in Love
Original Release Date: February 5, 2008
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Kim Ha-neul as Lee Da-jin
Yoon Kye-sang as Kim Jae-young
Shin Sung-rok as Lee Jin-seong
Cha Hyun-jung as Lee Ji-eun
LOVERS OF SIX YEARS RECAP
Lee Da-jin (Kim Ha-neul) arrives on a rooftop to meet her boyfriend, Kim Jae-young (Yoon Kye-sang), for dinner. It’s their sixth anniversary and Jae-young, who is a producer at a home shopping tv network, presents her with (fake) flowers and a box of lingerie. When she calls him out on bringing her artificial flowers, he claims he chose them because they will last forever just like their love. But the box of lingerie reveals the true reason behind the gifts: he’s been working all day so he grabbed the flowers and lingerie, which are the networks’ best sellers, from work.
Da-jin, on the other hand, has bought him the watch he’s wanted for quite some time now. She also gives him a card with an affectionate message inside. There’s a picture of an elderly couple on the front of the card, and she mentions how happy they look together, but Jae-young tells her it’s just a staged photo and love isn’t always so lovey-dovey.
After dinner, Jae-young parks the car under a bridge for a “special dessert,” which turns out to be sex in the car. Only they both end up dissatisfied. Da-jin doesn’t think it’s hot or romantic to do it out in the open where anyone can see, and Jae-young gets mad when Da-jin pushes him away because her chest hurts.
The next morning, he calls her from his apartment and it turns out they live next door to each other. They spend less money on taxi fare living nearby, but Jae-young is now privy to her beauty regiment and other single-secret-behavior. That night, for example, she scares him when she walks into his apartment wearing a face mask, and he jokes that he should try one out for himself.
At work the next day, Jae-young runs into Lee Ji-eun (Cha Hyun-jung) on the elevator. She recognizes him as the guy who caused her team to get reprimanded because he stole flowers from the set. He sheepishly claims he needed the flowers for a project.
Meanwhile, at the publishing company where Da-jin works, her colleagues walk into the conference room for a meeting to find her asleep with her legs up on the table. Her boss tsks at her for sleeping on the job, but it doesn’t stop him from giving her a big assignment: get artist Lee Jin-seong to do the illustrations for their next publication.
Later that day, Jae-young sees Ji-eun walking past carrying a load of boxes. The boxes are stacked so high that she doesn’t notice a pair of movers in front of her, and she runs into them and crashes to the ground. Jae-young runs to help her up, but she squeezes her eyes shut and pretends she’s unconscious.
Meanwhile, Da-jin has tracked down Lee Jin-seong (Shin Sung-rok). But when she approaches him on the street to pitch the project, he ignores her. She cheekily follows him into a taxi and tries to convince him to work with her team. As she’s talking, he reaches for his earbuds to listen to some music. Da-jin notices the earbuds, which are wireless, and picks one up when he drops it. She tells him she’s never seen one like it before, and she reaches over to put it in his ear. He pulls away and embarrasses her when he asks if she usually touches strange guys’ ears like this. She awkwardly tries to get back to convincing him to work on the company’s next book, but he turns her down, saying he prefers to work on one project at a time
By this time, Jae-young is in his car too. He’s giving Ji-eun a ride somewhere, and she tells him she’s working part-time at the home shopping network to save money for a month-long walking tour in Spain. He’s been looking her over during the ride and jokes that she’ll need to eat more because her thin legs won’t last a week on the walk. She calls him out on checking her out, and he sheepishly apologizes.
Da-jin has a doctor’s appointment that afternoon. She’s concerned about a lump in her breast and the doctor orders her to undergo a mammogram and ultrasound to see whether it’s cause for concern.
At home that night, Da-jin tells Jae-young about the mammogram she underwent earlier in the day, and Jae-young teases her about the machine being able to examine her small breasts. She ignores his joking but starts complaining about how stressful life is. She wonders if she should quit work to open a small bookstore, then she gets mad at Jae-young for not understanding she was just venting when he points out that no one buys books at a store anymore.
They go out with their friends the next night. Apparently, they’ve all been friends since college. One of the guys, Kim Min-jae (Seo Dong-won), is clearly uncomfortable when he sees Lee Mi-yung (Ok Ji-young) with her boyfriend, who is about to play a set with his band. When the boyfriend leaves to go on stage, one of the friends asks Min-jae why he’s there, and Mi-yung agrees. She reminds him that he dumped her during medical school and he whines that he regretted it then and still regrets it now.
They’re both clearly not over the breakup and it looks like they just need to get back together asap. Instead, they bicker while everyone around them looks on awkwardly. Then Da-jin and Jae-young get dragged into the argument when Min-jae asks about the lump in her breast. Jae-young mentioned he wasn’t getting any because her chest hurt and Da-jin glares at Jae-young for talking about their sex life.
Da-jin is so mad at Jae-young afterwards that she goes to her mother’s table tennis club instead of going home. Too bad her mother is firmly rooted in Jae-young’s camp. She mentions that he stopped by recently to clean the club and fix a few things, and she remarks that you can’t find men like him nowadays.
At work, she still hasn’t been able to get Jin-seong on board the project. She catches a break when Team Leader Yoon finds out he likes to collect LPs and she knows where his favorite record store is located.
That night, Da-jin brings home popsicles from the corner store, but Jae-young doesn’t want any. And when she asks him to take a walk with her, he’s not interested in that either. He’d rather watch a soccer match on tv. Da-jin goes for a walk by herself, and when she leaves Jae-young gets up to put the rest of the ice cream she bought away. He sees a 100-day anniversary cd they made and thinks about when they were young and still in love. They made time for each other even when he was busy studying and he listened to her vent and encouraged her to be strong and fight back when things got tough.
Back in the present, Jae-young stops by the hospital to visit Min-jae. Min-jae can’t stop thinking about Mi-yung and tells Jae-young he wants them to get back together. Jae-young thinks he’s stupid to be stuck on her when there are so many other women out there. He tells Min-jae to just be friends with Mi-yung, but Min-jae asks him if he’d be able to be just friends with Da-jin. Jae-young tells him they’re already just friends.
Da-jin takes Mi-yung with her to carry out her plan of accidentally bumping into Jin-seong at the record store. He sees through her ruse though and turns her down again.
Meanwhile, Ji-eun has called Jae-young for a ride to the airport. As they drive down the street a picture of him with Da-jin falls from the visor and Ji-eun finds out he has a girlfriend.
When the scene cuts back to Da-jin, she and Mi-yung are hurrying down the street. Da-jin has no idea why they’re walking so fast until Mi-yung reveals she took one of the records Jin-seong bought. They don’t get far though, because Jin-seong has followed them. Da-jin throws the record at him to stop him from chasing them, but of course it lands in the street and gets smashed by a passing car. Jin-seong keeps chasing them, and he catches up to Da-jin when she trips and falls. Mi-yung is so far ahead she doesn’t realize Da-jin got caught, and Da-jin is mortified but she promises to replace the record for him.
At the airport, Ji-eun asks Jae-young if he wants to have some fun just until she gets on the plane. Apparently she’s not leaving for her trip yet. She asked for a ride to the airport because she’d never been before (and because she needed an opportunity to proposition Jae-young).
Jae-young must have taken her up on the proposition, because he gets home late that night. He makes Da-jin suspicious because he starts stuttering when she asks where he’s been and overreacts when she jokingly asks if he’s seeing someone else.
Da-jin searches for a replacement LP to take to Jin-seong. In the meantime, she goes to his studio to wait outside for the chance to speak with him since he won’t answer his phone when he’s working. When she’s about to give up and go home, Jin-seong finally comes out. By then, Da-jin is not feeling well and Jin-seong notices she’s feverish from waiting outside so long. He gives her some medicine and offers to speak with her about the project if she wants to wait for him to finish up what he’s doing.
She wanders around the studio as he works, but by the time he’s done, she’s fallen asleep. He wakes her up and agrees to consider her project if she will wait for him to finish his current project. She agrees and grabs his hand in a handshake. He looks at her awkwardly and asks if she usually holds strange guys’ hands like this. She smiles and lets his hand go in embarrassment.
While Da-jin closes the deal with Jin-seong, Jae-young is hanging out with Ji-eun again. They’re at a bar, and it’s clear what his intentions are with her. When Da-jin calls, he lies that he’s at a business meeting and Ji-eun hears Da-jin tell him to bring tampons with him when he comes home. Ji-eun teases him for being nice enough to buy his girlfriend’s tampons, and then she asks him to come to the track with her (which seems totally random, but let’s just roll with it). They leave the bar and go to the track where Ji-eun beats him at a foot race and they collapse in the middle of the field. Jae-young rolls toward Ji-eun and tries to kiss her, but she sits up before their lips touch.
By the time he gets home, Da-jin is trying to contain a leak in the ceiling and gets mad at Jae-young for not answering her calls again, especially when she really needed him. She gets huffy and goes to bed, and when Jae-young comes to the room he starts doing push ups instead of going to sleep. She asks him if he has another job and points to the tv. His station is airing the segment he recorded with Ji-eun when a pair of models didn’t show up for filming and his co-worker roped them into pretending to be a couple for a food segment.
Jae-young tells her he found the LP she was looking for and that puts her in a better mood. She starts cuddling with him and asks about going on a trip. But he ignores her—he’s into the book about Spain he’s reading, so she gets mad again and turns her back to him.
The next day she takes the LP to Jin-seong, and he finally agrees to sign on as an illustrator for the publishing house’s next book. After her meeting, she has a follow up appointment with her doctor and gets bad news that the results from the mammogram were inconclusive. She will need to get a biopsy before they can find out if the lump in her breast is cancerous.
That evening, Da-jin is driving Jae-young’s car as they head home after work. Apparently she called him all day and he never picked up or returned her call. He claims he was busy with clients, and suddenly a car swerves in front of them without signaling and causes a collision. The driver gets out of his car and starts berating Da-jin for running into him, but Jae-young steps in and points out that the accident is legally his fault. When the driver leaves, he yells at Da-jin for wrecking his car and drives them the rest of the way home.
Da-jin gets out of the car without saying goodbye. She’s angry because Jae-young didn’t even bother asking if she was okay. Jae-young sends her an apology text that makes her feel a little better. She realizes she may have been wrong too so she goes over to his place to surprise him. Unfortunately, he’s on the phone with one of his co-workers. Although Da-jin doesn’t know who he’s talking to, she hears him complaining that his relationship with her feels more like brother and sister than lovers. He realizes too late that she’s there, and she storms out and goes to spend a few days with her mother.
At work the next day, the co-worker he was talking to the night before tells him Ji-eun comes looking for him an awful lot. She asks how far he’s gone with her. He assures her he never crossed the line with Ji-eun, but that doesn’t remain true for very long. That night he calls Ji-eun to meet for drinks and takes her back to his place where they spend the night together.
Da-jin returns home that night and is on the verge of catching them together, but Jin-seong calls just as she’s about to go inside her apartment. She turns around and goes to meet Jin-seong, and they end up taking a ride on his motorcycle to a place with a scenic night-view of the Seoul skyline.
The next day, Jae-young is taking a smoke break on the rooftop terrace at work when he gets a text message from his friend asking if he knows about the lump in Da-jin’s breast. He ignores the text, and we see Ji-eun come up the steps a moment later. They sit together and share a drink, and Jae-young gives her a carry-on case for her trip. As he leaves to return to work, Ji-eun grabs him into a back hug to thank him.
That night, Da-jin goes to Jin-seong’s studio. He has a cold and she’s brought him soup, even though he downs a concoction of coffee and liquor as a better cold remedy. He plays the record she replaced so she can hear it. As they’re standing there listening to it, he gets a nose bleed and Da-jin runs to get tissue for it. She presses the tissue to his nose and Jin-seong is so close to her that he notices the dark circles under her eyes. He comments that he likes the look of them, and then he kisses them before he goes in for a kiss on the lips.
Jae-young is sitting outside her mom’s house when she returns later. He stopped by to ask about the biopsy results (they came back normal) and to tell her she can come home because her apartment is just about done.
She returns to her apartment the next night and Jae-young invites her to his place for some wine. When she goes to his place, she notices a new toothbrush in the bathroom and Jae-young lies and says he had a visitor from work. Da-jin, perhaps finally admitting to herself that something is wrong, asks him if he’s happy with her. He says that he is, but she begs him to be honest with her because she feels things are not the same and she doesn’t want them to regret it later.
Just then Ji-eun calls. He tells her it’s not a good time, but when he gets off the phone he tells Da-jin something came up at work and leaves. He goes outside where Ji-eun is in the parking lot. She’s excited because she finally earned enough money to buy her ticket to Spain and she asks him to spend the night with her. He doesn’t respond right away, so she turns around to leave, but before she gets far he calls out to her to wait. She turns around and he tells her he’ll give her a ride home. Da-jin comes out to dump the trash and is shocked when she sees them leaving together. When she goes back into the apartment, she notices the message Ji-eun left on the mirror (thanking him for a great night) and realizes Jae-young has been cheating on her.
Jin-seong happens to text her as she’s sitting in the bathroom so she goes on a motorcycle ride with him. They end up at Namsan Tower and ride a cable car, and she confesses that she’s using him tonight. He says it feels good to see her anyway and admits that he really likes her. She tells him she’s been seeing someone for six years, and he asks if she loves him. She doesn’t answer. Instead, she says they know everything about each other and they’re at the point where it’s beyond love with them. Jin-seong says to him that means it’s okay that he loves her. She tells him she’s going to find herself and not depend on anyone else to make her happy from now on.
As they’re leaving Namsan Tower, a car causes them to run off the road, and Jae-young gets a call from Min-jae that Da-jin just arrived at the emergency room with another guy. He rushes to the hospital and sees Jin-seong and Da-jin together. He waits outside and confronts the two as they leave. He asks what’s going on between them and gets mad when he finds out they went to Namsan Tower together.
He accuses her of cheating on him and Jin-seong interjects and says he must not know his girlfriend if he thinks she cheated on him. He yells at her again asking if she slept with him or not, and she slaps him and lies that she did. Then she grabs Jin-seong’s hand and leaves.
Jae-young follows them and actually crashes his car into the taxi they’re riding in to stop them from getting away. When Jin-seong gets out, he takes a swing and they start to fight. Da-jin stands there getting angrier and angrier until she starts taking it out on Jae-young’s car. He runs over to her and tells her he knows why she’s doing this and tells her he’s sorry.
She breaks out the window in his car and tells him it’s too late, then she helps Jin-seong up from the ground and they leave. Jae-young looks down at the watch she brought him for their anniversary. The face is shattered.
They both cry that night as they sit in their apartments, and soon after Da-jin packs up her apartment to leave.
Da-jin’s surgery goes well, and Mi-yung and Min-jae are there to take care of her when she comes out of the operating room. They happily announce they’ve reconciled (because when you’ve just been under general anesthesia you really want to know that type of thing, I guess).
When Da-jin returns to work, the latest book is finished and she sees Jin-Seong at the office. He asks if it’s still not okay to ask her out, and she tells him she’s going to spend a little more time analyzing herself. He laments that he’s been rejected again.
Apparently, Da-jin is still house-hunting, and she and Jae-young still have the same taste in houses. She arrives to see a listing just as Jae-young and his realtor are leaving it. When they see each other, they take a short walk together and make the usual small talk. He asks how she’s been and he tells her he finally quit smoking. She can’t talk long because she has more houses to see, but she tells him they should have coffee together sometime.
As they each walk off in opposite directions, Jae-young sends her a text message. It’s a picture of the elderly couple from the card she gave him for their sixth anniversary. She turns around and calls out to him asking if he kept the card all this time. A passing bus drowns out her words so Jae-young starts running toward her to hear what she said, but he trips and falls. She helps him up and laughs at him, and in voice over she says:
What would happen if we got back together? They say broken bones bind stronger than before the break. Could we be stronger too? We’ll probably lie, fight, and hurt each other again. Then get sick of it and break up again—forgetting how much we missed each other and forgetting how much we regretted it all.
Oy vey . . .
Once again I hardly know where to start. It would be inaccurate to say that I disliked this movie because, although it’s certainly not the greatest film ever, it’s perfectly watchable and relatively well-made. But I certainly disliked the messages in this film or, to be more accurate, I disliked Da-jin’s total lack of self-esteem.
Usually with an OTP, even when the male lead is a total jerk, there is something likeable about him or he redeems himself by the end of the story and that marginally justifies the fact that the female lead likes him instead of the too-perfect second lead. But this movie had none of that (except the fact that Jae-young was good to Da-jin’s mom). Jae-young was frankly a selfish liar throughout the entire movie yet Da-jin stuck around and even hoped for a reconciliation in the end. In my head, that just did not compute.
The movie does get points for being a realistic glimpse into the state of some relationships after six years. This couple had clearly grown apart and neither one of them did anything to rectify it. It was almost painful to watch them fall into the obvious pitfalls in store for a couple who takes their relationship for granted and spends almost no time doing anything other than running the rat race of life. I thought it was particularly telling, for example, when Jae-young didn’t come home for dinner one night and Da-jin told him he didn’t have to take her on dates but he could at least not leave her to eat alone. I thought, that’s probably why he was out with someone else while you ate alone. Because you should be going out on dates and spending time together doing more than household chores. So to me, the problems they had was clearly both of their fault. And I fault both of them for not being honest about how they felt.
The ending was very ambiguous. From a narrative standpoint, I found it quite effective. But as a curious (read: nosy) viewer, I admit I would have liked to know what ultimately happened between them in the end.
Overall, I can definitely see why people enjoyed this movie when it hit theaters. Its strength lies in its realism and the solid performances from Kim Ha-neul and Yoon Kye-sang. Too bad it was a bit weak on the romance though.