Chungmuro/Film News
“P.S. I Love You” vs. “The Letter”
by | December 5, 2007 | 101 Comments

I know I cannot be the only person to have noticed the similarities.

When I first started seeing ads for the new Hilary Swank movie P.S. I Love You, I was struck with the storyline and figured it must be another case, as with Il Mare and My Sassy Girl, of Hollywood adapting a popular, well-received Korean film. Because the story of P.S. I Love You — what I can glean from commercials and online searches, that is — seems almost a direct retelling of the 1997 Korean film The Letter, starring one of the top Korean actresses of all time, Choi Jin Shil, and an actor I’ve only JUST realized is Park Shin Yang.

In fact, it was so similar that I was totally sure it was a remake — but looking online reveals no connection. The Hollywood movie is apparently based on a 2004 novel of the same name, written by first-time novelist Cecelia Ahern, according to Wikipedia.

Huh. I suppose it could be a case of two people coming up with the same idea independently, but it’s an awfully big coincidence.

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Gun Mo – “이별없는 사랑” (A love without farewell). I’ve just rediscovered all my old Kim Gun Mo albums (thanks to holidays spent back at the family home), and remembered why he was one of the few pop singer-songwriters who’s lasted through the ever-changing kpop scene. You can’t really call him “kpop” although he is Korean and writes/sings pop music in the strict sense of the term. [ zShare download ]

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I remember seeing The Letter in a movie theater in L.A. — a rare occurrence, that, since ten years ago Korean films weren’t really a blip on the international cinema scene. But this was Koreatown, and The Letter was enough of a hit in Korea that a theater in L.A. ran the film — with English subtitles! — in a limited run wherein (practically) everyone I knew went to see it.

I wasn’t a big Korean film fan then, and not even really a kdrama fan, although I had seen the lead actress, Choi Jin Shil, in THE original trendy drama, Jealousy, when it kicked off the romantic-comedy drama craze in 1992.

The Letter was billed as a sad movie, which is also something I vigorously avoid, but for some reason it seems more uplifting than tragic. I cried buckets in the movie — I am not exaggerating because I distinctly remember noting this at the time — and started weeping about halfway through the film and DID NOT STOP. But it was the kind of crying you enjoy indulging in, not the sadomasochistic or self-pitying kind. I heard that Choi Jin Shil cried so much while filming the movie that she passed out from dehydration.

Anyway. This is what I remember of the film — I’ve only seen it once, but I have a pretty good memory for useless details and this film sticks in my memory:

THE GENERAL PLOT (Non-spoilery)

Choi Jin Shil and Park Shin Yang are a happily, newly married couple with the whole world in front of them, until they discover that Park Shin Yang is dying of cancer. He passes away early on in the film, and leaves behind his grieving widow, who has to now move on alone. One day she gets a letter — from her husband. She can’t figure out where it came from and it doesn’t SEEM to be a mistake. As in, it’s not a long-lost letter; it’s addressed to her as though he’s speaking to her in the present.

She continues to get letter after letter, which of course is welcome and yet entirely confounding. Are they fake? Is it from a ghost? How is he sending her these messages now? And let’s just say by the end she gains a measure of peace and it’s all heartwarming and uplifting even with all the sad mixed in.

 

 

THE SPOILERY VERSION

Since it’s been such a while since I’ve seen the film, I can only recall certain parts — but they’re such powerful parts. Park Shin Yang is completely touching as the slowly deteriorating husband who clings to his positive side despite the fact that his body is breaking down, and Choi Jin Shil is always wonderful.

No, there’s no supernatural flibberty-gibberty going on, nor is there some freaky time-space warp issue. The truth is quite simple, actually, but what makes the film work isn’t its premise so much as it is watching how these two people act their way through it. Eventually, we find out the source of the letters — and it’s really the plainest, most logical answer: The husband had prepared them prior to his death, without his wife’s knowledge, and gave instructions for them to be sent to her after his passing in order to help ease her grief.

There’s a particularly lovely part, one of those scenes you first see from one side, and then from the other, and it’s when you see the full picture that the emotion hits you full-force. And it’s a doozy. Just thinking of it even now brings tears to my eyes. Early on in the film, Wifey is taking care of her ailing husband, who’s very sick from chemo but not yet at death’s door, when she goes out to run some errands or some such thing. She’s been worn down from taking care of her sick husband, and he’s been irritable lately, so although they love each other, affection hasn’t been their priority in recent days.

So on a whim, she stops by a pay phone to call home, only the answering machine picks up. She leaves her message for her husband to hear later, saying, “I wanted to tell you this now, because I haven’t said it lately. I love you.”

Then, after he dies and sends her letters and she finds out that he’d written the letters prior to his death, she receives a final message from him. The fact that it’s the last letter she’ll be receiving is particularly moving even if not for the message itself, which comes this time in the form of a video. Wifey pops in the tape to see that it’s her husband, sometime during his chemotherapy stages, talking into the camera. But he’s interrupted by a phone call — and since he’s in the middle of recording, he decides not to pick up, and waits for the answering machine to finish its message. And when he hears his wife’s voice, and the message that she leaves, OH GOOD LORDY the expression on Park Shin Yang’s face as he completely breaks down… wow. The movie’s worth it just for that scene, y’all. Now that I’ve spoiled it for you, heh.

END OF SPOILERYNESS

I’ll say right now that I think the Hilary Swank version is gonna suck. I have nothing to base that assertion upon except for the fact that it looks unbearably cheesy, like a Nicholas Sparks novel gone (even more) self-indulgently maudlin.

Even if P.S. I Love You doesn’t bear any official relation to The Letter, it still seems to have produced that weirdness that happened when Il Mare was bastardized into its Hollywoodified Sandra-Keanu version in The Lake House. Il Mare — despite the seeming outrageousness of its premise (two people send each other letters through a maaagical mailbox despite living two years apart) — worked because of the small moments, the thin bond that sprung up between Jeon Ji Hyun’s and Lee Jung Jae’s characters and which slowly, organically, quietly grew into something substantial. That movie lives and breathes in its silences, its long pauses — which is why the glossier, melodramatic-er Lake House does nothing for me. Except perhaps cause my eyeballs to roll upward of their own accord. I can’t help it. It’s snark reflex.

Okay, so it’s probably too early to be consigning P.S. I Love You to the same fate (is it, though?), but who cares, I’ll do it anyway. Even if I’d seen the marketing blitz for P.S. with no knowledge of The Letter, I’d write it off as squishy oversentimentalized sappiness that turns me off despite the fact that I’m the perfect target audience: I have a built-in high-shmaltz tolerance! I love silly teen movies and predictable romantic comedies! But with this kind of movie, I’m sick of the overwrought-ness of it all. Everything just seems too TOO. Too much drama, too much angst, too much wonder, just too much. Hollywood needs to calm the fuck DOWN and let their movies breathe.

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101 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Candy

    For reals, I didn’t know that. Thanks Javabeans for that info. The guy from The Letter looks awfully alot like the guy from the korean drama Lovers in Paris. So, do you think P.S. I love You is worth watching? Maybe I should watch The Letter first. Never heard of it before. But I saw this k-movie called A Moment To Remember which is a sad story too but instead of the lead guy, it’s the lead girl who dies.

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    • 1.1 noctifa

      u should watch the letter 1st i really love that movie really great and dont worry the end is not so sad

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  2. deeta

    Wow, the coincidence is amazing. I read the book a while ago, and hated it with passion. REEEEELLLLLIII hated the story telling, the seemingly sappy/superficial wifey, etc etc. But according to your retelling of the PSY’s movie, the similarities is wow.

    I guess it might just be possible that Cecelia Ahern (who I think is the producer of Samantha Who, lol) got her ‘ideas’ from the movie. Dunno. All I remember was that I pretty much flipped and scanned through the last parts of the book cause I got irritated by how CA presented Holly.

    Do you have any ideas where The Letter might still be available?

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  3. docmitasha

    Wow. I was just thinking the story was interesting when I saw the preview and sounds familiar, but I’m not a Hilary Swank fan so was not planning to check it out. But I definitely have to watch The Letter now. I think I must have come across the synopsis sometime back thus the familiarity. PSY is a fine, fine, actor, and I can just imagine how great he was in that role. He’s one of my favorite actors, can’t believe I missed watching this one. Damn, I hope Hollywood doesn’t mess this up, though just like I didn’t bother to watch The LakeHouse so Il Mare wouldn’t get ruined for me, I’ll probably skip this too.
    Also, I can’t believe its a coincidence, I bet they felt “inspired” and not ethical enough to credit it where it belongs. Anyhow, like you said, it’ll probably be TOO much and lose all its poignancy and beauty, which from what you’ve said the story should portray. Just the story alone sounds so beautiful, and though I may be biased, I feel such stories are handled best and most wonderfully by Korean filmmakers. Hollywood just can’t cut it, can’t let the moments be, can’t let the silence speak. But Korean film-makers make it a piece of art.
    Thanks! :)
    *goes to hunt for the letter*

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  4. Kiongna

    The Letter – Yes, it is our Oppa Park Shin Yang and Candy it is the same Ki Jo from Lovers in Paris.

    The Letter, The Promise and Indian Summer are my most favourite Park Shin Yang movies, yes I am a Park Shin Yang fan. Candy, you will find a few similar trademarks for PSY from The Letter in Lovers in Paris – like taking the handkerchief to dust the seating place of his love interest …..

    PSY has the uncanny ability to tap to his most inner emotions and portray them natuarally and passionately. Below an excerpt of THE LETTER from his website: parkshinyang.com – CAUTION some spoilers…
    ***********************
    With the tag line, “a tear-jerking melodrama”, the film pulled a record-breaking 770-thousand viewers in 1997. Park Shin-yang plays a man working in an arboretum as a tree specialist who bumps into a Korean academic at a train station. She drops her wallet while running to catch a train and, when he retrieves it for her, it leads to the start of a romantic love affair. Willing to do anything for his love, he promises to be with her forever. But shortly after they marry, he is diagnosed with a fatal disease and dies, leaving his love on her own. But letters start arriving from her lover just as she starts to think there is no point to life without her husband.

    Park Shin-yang encapsulated the endless gentleness and purity of one man’s love in this film that had audiences reaching for boxes of tissues. The movie became famous in Korea for a sentimental scene focusing on the dying husband’s video-taped message to his wife in which the character reads a poem. Park Shin-yang received the Popularity Award at the 34th Baek-Sang (White Elephant) Art Award and the Best New Male Actor Award at the 18th Film Critics Award among others, reserving him a spot among the nation’s best-loved actors.
    ********************************
    The Lakehouse was so Hollywoody and held no magic whatsover from the original Il Mare – and yeah like Javabeans said, “That movie lives and breathes in its silences, its long pauses…” Oh Javabeans, you hit it right on the nose…

    Been a while this old PSY fan – used to be a roaring fanatical PSY fan….thanks for relivin my memories of this wonderful movie THE LETTER and my feelings for this brilliant actor….Hugs, E

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  5. rocketfuel

    I remember The Letter…I was forced to watch it by my mom in this one run down theater in the ghettos of Los Angeles. Everyone was crying…including me…so basically I was forced to be an ahjumma. damn you mom!

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  6. docmitasha

    Can’t seem to find it anywhere :( Does anyone know if its available anywhere online to watch or order (couldn’t find it on YesAsia :( )? The more I read about it the more I want to watch it!

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  7. javabeans

    rocketfuel, who knows, maybe we were in the same screening. lol. i was “forced” to go with my parents as well — a rare bonding experience since it was the practically the only korean drama or film that came subtitled back then.

    docmitasha, i’m not sure, i’m scouring clubboxes right now to see which one has it. someone MUST have it — the movie was a big deal!

    and yeah, i find myself exceedingly skeptical that PS I Love You had absolutely no knowledge or influence from The Letter — i mean, just look at those side-by-side posters! similar pose, similar framing, similar use of font color and title and photo… you can’t say THAT was coincidence too.

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  8. Sephia

    Wow. I’m off to hunt “The Letter” right now!!!

     (0)


  9. SM

    Yeah, I read the P/s: I love you book before as my friend recommended it to me. As soon as I started to read it, I recoginised there were a lot of coincidently similarities between the book and “The letter” (I just knew the splot of the movie from the news and havent got chance to watch yet).

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  10. 10 rocketfuel

    javabeans, was it at the Gardena theatre?

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  11. 11 tealeaf

    Rumour has it that Cecelia Ahern (a 20-something first time novelist) wrote the novel over a span of 3 months. I believe P.S. I Love You was published in 2001. I’m not a fan of chick-lit authors so can’t pass judgment. But i agree, it’s an interesting coincidence.

    BTW, with the recent Hollywood’s acquisition of Korea’s movies and drama copyrights, i think we should brace ourselves for more adaptations. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but apparently, the first American remake of a classic K-drama is slated to be released some time in 2008. It’s the remake of My Sassy Girl! Your thoughts, javabeans?

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  12. 12 docmitasha

    apparently a lot of people have been looking for it for a long time. Found it on AsianDBs without subtitles, and a used VHS on top of that. I guess because its such an old movie the new generation of rippers/uploaders haven’t bothered :( I really wish atleast YesAsia carried it! will keep looking though.

    Shame that there’s no credit given anywhere where its due here. Even if both were based on Ahern’s story, its so obvious that even the posters are inspired by The Letter. Atleast a previous adaptation should be acknowledged. How infuriating.

    Edit: Heard abt My Sassy Girl remake…not looking forward to it!

    ‘k, am going to stop haunting your blog and stop procrastinating. Ah damn lab reports.

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  13. 13 djes

    Hollywood is running out of ideas nowadays. They were digging old or new ASIAN movies to be remade. And the worst thing, they wanted to hide the fact ( the remake thing ).
    I avoid to watch any remake of Asian movies, I like the original better.
    One movie I was trying so hard not to watch is “The Departed” – remake of Hong Kong flick “Infernal Affair” – because of course I can’t imagine Leonardo Di Caprio & Matt Damon could ever replaced Andy Lau ( my hero ) and Tony Leung.. AND I hate with passion when Leo was nominated in Oscar!
    Come on America! Admit that Asian movies are good!! :P

    I never want to see “The Lake House”, I promoted “Il Mare” to anybody who said the Hollywood’s take is better. I guess they just want to see Sandra and Keanu..:)

    About “My Sassy Girl” remake, I also heard the rumor. America wants to remake “My Wife is A Gangster” too, rite? AND they want to replace Shim Eun Kyung with Queen Latifah?? OMFG. What the hell the producers were thinking?

    I read lots of chick lites, but somehow I never want to read “P.S I Love You”, even the book is available in my language.

    @ Sephia : maybe I could find “The Letter” for you? *wink* You know I am good at this…:P

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  14. 14 javabeans

    hmm, people are asking (unsuccessfully) where to find The Letter on Korean sites, too. it’s gotta be SOMEwhere…

    rocketfuel, they showed it in Gardena? I saw it in some theater in K-town. don’t remember which one it was though.

    I think My Sassy Girl: The Hollywood Version is gonna suck too. I don’t have high expectations at all. And hey, i have as much residual Sandra-Keanu love left over from Speed (so mindlessly entertaining!) but seeing them together in Lake House is just so cringingly awkward. Now, the remake of Tale of Two Sisters — THAT, I’m thinking, might actually end up being interesting. I doubt it’ll be as good as the original, but it might not entirely blow.

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  15. 15 Philippa

    I don’t like the Korean version of Il Mare, even though it’s like originally Korean and all, I like the American Verson better… lol. I LOVE Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves! They mesh well toghther! lmao.

    Thanks.

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  16. 16 Ter

    Hhahahahahha, the post completely descended into rant mode by the end, and I loved every word of it XD. Made me laugh.Thanks javabeans. And on the other hand, your description of that one scene alone made me tear up, so I’m thinking I may just die if I watch it for reals.

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  17. 17 rach

    the only reason i’d see p.s. i love you is because of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Gerard Butler (the accent!)
    pure eye candy!

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  18. 18 kotatsulove

    jeez, there are a lot of American remakes of korean films. there’s gonna be a remake of A Tale of Two Sisters?! i don’t know if i should be excited or not…

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  19. 19 Kristen

    I think the way for a Korean-to-American movie would work best would to cast “nobodies” for the leads. But there you go, it wouldn’t even work that way because no one would watch. I just don’t like a lot of movies for that reason: they pick the big names, and they just don’t fit, or overwhelm the roles.

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  20. 20 eyna

    i’ve already read P.S. I Love You, and I’m actually looking forward to its movie version.. and yeah, what a similarity with The Letter.. thanks for this information javabeans..

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  21. 21 huh?

    I read Rosie Dunne by Cecila Ahern and enjoyed it so much that I remember waiting for “P.S. I Love You” to be published…..I thought it was really sweet and original….now you’ve gone and spoiled it for me…it wasn’t original at all =( However, on the brightside….I will be looking for “The Letter.”

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  22. 22 Marzy

    i loved the PS i love u book btw. it had me in tears. i do see the similarities. but wow. i really enjoyed the read.. wow.. :D thanks for the info though!

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  23. 23 Sherry

    I would also love to find The Letter with English subtitles. *sigh*

    I read P.S. I Love You and I thought it was terrible. It was so badly written and the main character got really annoying by the end of it.

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  24. 24 Cat

    It’s great that you wrote this entry. A few years ago I watched a Thai film also called “The Letter” and when I kept seeing commercials for P.S. I Love You, I kept thinking about how similar it is! Now I think if anything the Thai movie ripped off the Korean version and that is quite a revelation because I also cried buckets for that movie. Another interesting movie that has a similar concept to a Korean movie (“Jenny, Juno”) would be Juno. When I saw the commercial, I immediately searched online to see if it was a remake, but the writer said it’s pure coincidence, etc etc.

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  25. 25 Giddygirl108

    I haven’t seen “The Letter” yet but just reading your spoiler-bit about it brought tears to my eyes already.

    Park Shin Yang is great :)

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  26. 26 gail

    but javabeans, it’s gerry! the phantom. 300. dear frankie. ah, sexiness. :D

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  27. 27 coffeewhore

    ok I’m going to say I freakin loved the book PS I Love You. it was so cute and touching and I cried everytime Holly opened a letter. I don’t know if Ahern was really “copying” someones idea but you know, there are real life cases of these things happening. there was that mom that was dying from cancer and she wrote letters for her kid. so PERSONALLY, I really think this was just a coincidence. by the way, ahern is irish.

    awww the one with swank looks cheesy but serioulsy, it kinda looks cute too haha. plus i agree with gail above me…the guy playing gerry is HOT! ;)

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  28. 28 canyayasis

    *Note to: docmitasha…..
    If you find a clubbox with it, will you let us know.
    I’m searching for it to purchase, if i find a place that has it, i’ll be back.

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  29. 29 Anonymous

    that’s plagarism isn’t? although the idea, i mean most movie ideas aren’t all that original these days but when there’s just a bit too much of a similarity there should be a limit.

    but just so you know this whole process doesn’t exclude other countries and nations. It’s not JUST america doing this. And we aren’t running out of ideas totally… it’s just those cheesy crappy directors that have no ideas to begin with of their own.

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  30. 30 berrycakes7

    They’re making a Hollywood version of My Sassy Girl? Is it in the process or is it already out?

    I completely agree with you that it’s VERY suspicious that there be so much similarity between “The Letter” and “P.S. I Love You”. While I’m not Korean, I understand that you lean toward the original korean versions because I think Hollywood remakes of international films quite often do not do justice to the original works. But unfortunately, unless you saw the original film with subtitles or are somehow associated with the country that produced the film, you won’t know any better. And “The Lake House”, it was nice but you got this sense that something was missing, like it was lacking…and then I heard it was based on a k-film and it all made sense! lol…

    Hope someone out there finds “The Letter” for us!

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  31. 31 Dahee Fanel

    I’ve always felt that modern Hollywood isn’t good with the romances. They just…aren’t. They don’t have that certain atmosphere, and indeed, those “pauses” that you described. They’re so busy trying to fill in the plot and explain everything in bold face to the audience (as if we don’t have brains!) that they can’t just slow down and breathe and let some things go unexplained. Even romance feels mundane in a Hollywood film, at least for me. That’s why “The Lake House” was such pure, unadulterated crap. They couldn’t have reached that level of Korean sentiment even if they’d tried. I cringe when I think about the “My Sassy Girl” remake.

    But yeah, thanks for this post. I’d totally forgotten about this movie until I read this. Man, makes me itch to go to the local Korean video rental shop and see if they have it…

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  32. 32 bethany

    korean films (and even dramas) just… play better korean. i dont know if thats stating the obvious, but maybe its just.. yeah. even the plots are often ridiculously cheesy, but for some reason, in korean… it works.

    i want to watch “the letter” now. =)

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  33. 33 hjk

    I ended up watching The Lakehouse first, before I had heard about Il Mare, and it totally RUINED Il Mare for me. Now, I really want to see The Letter. Must remember to keep a box of tissue handy. I can’t get excited at all about Hillary Swank in P.S. I Love You, but I might be tempted because of Gerry Butler. Met him while vacationing in Big Sur — the NICEST guy and much better looking in person. Yum, those Scots. Loved him in Dear Frankie.

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  34. 34 mai

    wow. i remember watching the letter somehow. I don’t know when, i saw it a long time ago.. . sadly i don’t remember much about the movie but the two characters and how they look.

    but it is strange that hollywood produce a film similar to it.

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  35. 35 hellaakon

    I’ve never seen it! :/

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  36. 36 blends

    I read P.S I love you a while back. A friend of mine practically shoved the book onto my face!
    I liked the general idea of the story, but not the way she presented it (I think she read too many Nicholas Sparks novels!). Now that I knew about The Letter, I can’t help feeling cheated by the book. Too much coincidences, too small world!

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  37. 37 h.

    I’ve read Cecilia Ahern’s novel, but I have had no previous knowledge of “The Letter,” so thank you for telling me that. It does seem very similar. I’m with blends up there, it’s too much coincidences.

    I’m really scared of what will happen to the “My Sassy Girl” remake. Because I’m not really a big fan of Elisha Cuthbert to begin with, plus the fact that Hollywood just generally messes it up. I think one of the things, aside from what you have pointed out about the silences and the quiet cadence of “Il Mare” that made it what it was was also the quirky voice-talent job of Jeon Ji-hyun’s character. I think it added a certain touch of added loneliness and detachment from the rest of the human world, quite unlike Sandra Bullock’s doctor character (while I do know for a fact that doctors are lonely people, it’s just so darn cliche, you know?) And on an off-topic, I do love Sandra B. and Keannu, but they really should’ve reunited on a different project.

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  38. 38 vis

    Wow, thanx for bringing that up! I saw the trailer to “P.S I love you” and thought the story sounded interesting although I don’t really like Hilary Swank… but hearing about The Letter, I’d much rather watch that one instead. And about the Korean movie vs. the novel (that came out later)… it does seem extremely suspicious

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  39. 39 casey

    is this such a great timing or what?
    just yesterday i have been looking for new hollywood movies and i got interested over P.S. I love you. though i have seen books of cecilia ahern’s novel at the bookshop i was intrigued upon knowing that one of her books has already a movie adaptation. i wanted to read cecilia’s other novels especially Love, Rosie since readig from her books excerpts they all look quite interesting and not too heavy to read, so to speak. but what heightens my curiousity though is javabeans comparison between the korean movie and the irish written book and now a hollywood movie.
    i know that there are lots who are posting asking for a site where to find this k-movie, but nevertheless i will add myself to the list of those requesting for it.
    so calling all “the letters” fanatics/soon-to be-fanatic/curious fans to please post the site here.
    thanks java beans for this article.
    by the way, i like il mare more than the lake house!

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  40. 40 La Plume

    Why the hell does Holywood always wants to make remakes? Ok I know you said this time it isn’t but I feel instead of always making their own movies and adaptation of foreign films they should simply broadcast more widely Asian or European films in the US. Their adaptations often suck and you know what they say ” The copy never equal the original”. I remember notably the american version of one of the most watched french comedy of all time “Les Visiteurs” which they called ” Les Visiteurs en Amérique” aka “Just Visiting” and is was really dreadful.

    We’re leaving in an Internet Society where frontiers don’t have any meaning any more so I find their attitude really laughable.

    You got me really interested in “the Letter” by the way ^^ So like everyone ^^ ahem if you found a clubbox which had it, feel free to tell us

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  41. 41 bee

    your spoilery summary alone made me tear up. ahh, I’ve got to see this now! haha. I’m also not excited for the Americanized My Sassy Girl to come out. I just don’t think the script will do the original justice. It’s probably just one of those movies where they take the name and the basic plotline and then that’s about it. Hopefully they won’t taint the “my sassy girl” name..

    The Americanized Lake House made me dislike Sandra Bullock and I LOVE Sandra Bullock, haha. No comment on Keanu…

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  42. 42 kotatsulove

    its kind of fun that all these korean movies are coming out in america, just so the “enlightened” us can say we saw the original. if the american My Sassy Girl is hit, i’m going to laugh and recommend the original for everyone who talks about it. but i doubt it’ll be a hit. seriously doubt it.

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  43. 43 pumpkin

    i loved il mare, so i went to see lake house and was so horribly let down by it–on top of that, it made il mare harder to rewatch.
    i didn’t like my sassy girl, but have to give great applause to Ji-hyun Jun for her excellent acting in it. (aside: did she really adopt an unique english sounding name gianna?). i don’t believe any known hollywood actress could successfully pull off the title role of my sassy girl: there is too much pride in hollywood actresses in how they look on the screen usually.
    but, when i started to read the plot description of 편지 (the letter), i had to read past the spoiler. One of my favorite romantic movies of all time is the japanese film, iwai shunji’s 1994 “love letter”, which has a similar starting plot, although see first writes a letter to her dead fiance, upon which she is surprised to get an answer and then to exchange letters. All that leading to a search for the source of the replies and then to a further understanding of her relationship with her dead fiance, and her ability to love again. It is so beautiful, and I couldn’t stop crying from within the first 10 minutes through the end even on repeated viewings. I withhold the resolution of that film incase you have not seen it, but i highly recommend it if you have not seen it. I think it was a big hit in korea too in the 90s.
    thanks for the very interesting post.

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  44. 44 Kimmi

    I LOVED P.S. I Love You, because it was written well.
    Nothing is really ever original anymore, so I think even if Cecelia Ahern took the idea from The Letter, it’s okay, at least non-Koreans got to enjoy the story.

    I was PISSED though when I heard that they were doing a movie version.With Hilary Swank. Ugh.

    Besides that, thanks for the comparison. =] Now I have to go hunt down the Letter.
    And I am ridiculously in love with Soulmate. (I finally got around to watching it.) So thanks for that! =]

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  45. 45 Jolee

    When I first read about remaking the letter, I wasn’t so surprised. They did that with quite a few Asian movies and I dread the ultimate fate of these brilliantly made movies when in the hands of American directors. I never want to watch the Departed after watching Infernal Affairs. Nothing can replace the cast of veteran actors and the wonderful Tony Leung. I just cringed when I knew Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon were in it. There was once where I randomly happened to watch the last half of the Lake House on the plane. I knew they were planning a remake of Il Mare, but I didn’t really pay attention to the new name and cast. Lets just say that I wanted to shout to everyone on the plane that they need to stop watching this crap and watch the real version.

    When I read your post about The Letter being plagiarized the first thing I thought was the title of the book was “borrowed” too. There’s a song out there by Yuki Hsu a Taiwanese singer, who was popular in the late 90s (which is when the song came out too), also called P.S. I love you. Now, you call that a coincidence or its a common phrase or what not, but I think whoever wrote this book just decided to look up asian movies, dramas, songs and “incorporate” ideas that “inspired” her, into her book. I know a lot of ideas for dramas, movies, and titles are reused over and over and perhaps the title is just a cheesy thing someone came up with…but if this is anything, its a blatant example of plagiarism which our world is seemingly soooo obsessed with now!

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  46. 46 simi

    I think the one thing Hollywood never factors in their remakes of any foreign film is that you don’t need to “Americanize” a movie for it to appeal to American audiences. Having seen the enormous success of It’s A Beautiful Life, The Full Monty, Spirited Away and Amelie just to name a few. These movies are at their best when they are left untouched.

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  47. 47 docmitasha

    @ canyayasis and everyone looking for the movie:

    So I’ve drained all my search and request outlets and haven’t turned up with anything yet :( . However, it seems to be such a popular movie and especially with this American ‘coincidental’ revival there’s a big chance it’ll be re-released, I think, so lets keep our fingers crossed! If I manage to come across something I’ll let javabeans know so she can tell her devoted fans who rush to watch all she recommends :)
    Thanks, Javabeans! I look forward to watching this one day, but till then your spoilers are wonderful substitutes!

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  48. 48 Mawee

    The Letter seems like a good movie to cry my hearts out ^^

    Anyway some may say Il Mare is a boring movie with its silence and long pauses..
    but I think also that it’s one of the movies impact, the silent attacks…

    How about Hur Jin Ho movies??? They’re Il Mare-ish.. Loved Hur Jin Ho’s movies btw (:

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  49. 49 Jenni

    Another Hollywood remake of a Korean movie is “Jenny, Juno” — only, in the Hollywood version, they just went with “Juno”.

    And, yes, I was also disappointed by “The Lake House”. I was extremely hesitant about watching the Hollywood remake, and after watching it I just felt like something died. “Il Mare” was so beautifully scripted and shot; “The Lake House”…not so much.

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  50. 50 Beng

    well all i ca say is i love park shin yang. even to the point of really collecting all of his movies. but i missed the “The Letter”. I just hope i can find one. i love his last tv series, though the ending sucks and i did not bother to watch anymore the extension episodes.

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