Monday, October 3, 2016

UPDATED 'My Love Don't Cross That River' DVD: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told



[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following review is an updated version of the August 2016 review of the theatrical release of "Love." This update discusses the bonus short film and the special features in the DVD release.]

The October 4, 2016 (available to all) Film Movement  Film of the Month Club DVD release of the uber-awesome 2014 South Korean documentary "My Love, Don't Cross That River" allows folks who missed the August 2016 theatrical release of this perfect documentary to watch it from the comfort of home.

This high regard for "Love" reflects the same universal themes in that film that exist regarding virtually every (mostly foreign) movie in the Movement catalog. The Korean subjects of the film easily could be the nice retired couple next door to you.

As an aside, fans of exceptional Korean cinema can also check out the (Unreal TV reveiwed) "Sea Fog." This drama from the producer of the spectacular drama "Snowpiercer" tells the compelling tale of a fishing boat captain driven to transporting illegal aliens with catastrophic results.

The following YouTube clip of the "Love" trailer showcases the heart and humor that warrant the raves for the film.


The Movement publicity material shares that this labor of love is the result of documentarian Moyoung Jin devoting 15 months to capturing the lives of happily married senior-senior citizens Byong-man Jo and his wife of 76 years Gye-Yeul Kang. These materials also note that "Love" has the distinction of being the most successful independent film in South Korea. International acclaim includes winning the Documentary Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Audience Award at the Moscow International Film Festival.

Virtually all of "Love" consists of capturing the daily activities that in turn capture the clearly deep love of our subjects. An early scene has Gye-Yeul good-naturedly complaining about the difficulty of sweeping up leaves only to have her husband tell her that he will do it. This soon leads to this 90-something man playfully initiating a leaf fight.

Other adventures for this couple that delights in dressing alike include a seniors' picnic, a romp in the snow, and an amusingly bizarre serenade.

We soon hear the story that Gye-Yeul is 14 when she learns that 19 year-old Byong-man is selected to be her husband; the extent to which this is an arranged marriage, rather than the result of a conclusion that Byong-man merely is a suitable husband, is unclear. The audience also is told that Byong-man is an exceptional gentleman both during his courtship and after getting married.

Other notable aspects of the lives of this couple is that they have had 12 children and love those who die young as much as the living ones with whom they have enviable relationships. One of the most charming scenes has the "kids" come for a holiday visit; the award for most relatable scene involves an entertaining argument during a birthday party for Gye-Yeul.

The other stars of "Love" are two cute little dogs named Freebie and Kiddo; each of these individuals have stories with strong emotional content.

The larger story is the realizations of our couple that the end is near for both of them and that Byong-man is likely going to be the first to go. Gye-Yeul seemingly being more concerned about how her husband will cope with the afterlife until she joins him than about how she will cope in this existence during that interim is very moving. This topic also provides Westerners fascinating insight into the religious beliefs of these old folks.

Everything the above paragraphs discuss and the tons o' delights to discover on watching "Love" make it truly "must-see" if only because you will recognize yourself and/or others in your life in the film.

The (as always apt) bonus short film that accompanies this addition to the Movement Film of the Month Club selection is the 19-minute film "Ed and Pauline." The titular couple is 1950s Berkeley (mostly foreign) art-house movie theater owner Ed Landberg and future legendary film critic Pauline Kael. Film makers Christian Bruno and Natalija Vekic provide expert concise early-life biographies of the pair and document the events that lead to their marriage and subsequent divorce. That break-up supports the conclusion of a recent New York Times essay that explains why we marry someone who is like us and why doing so almost surely leads to unhappiness.

The talking heads include Landberg, director John Waters, and "insiders" very familiar with Kael, Landberg, and the theater.

The special DVD feature is a group of deleted scenes.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Love" is implored to email or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy if doing so will help push you to buy the DVD.