Chungmuro/Film Reviews
Movie Review: Boy Meets Boy
by | September 24, 2011 | 49 Comments

Oodles of cute is all I have to say. This short film was just so charming I had to tell everyone about it. It’s from 2008, but the message it sends is still relevant today, especially in Korea. This is definitely a quick, fun, must-see film. It’s only 13 minutes long (16 minutes for the director’s cut) and I promise you won’t regret seeing it.

Because it’s such a short film, this review will be relatively short, and I have included links to the film posted on YouTube, so you can go and have a look-see following the review.

Genre: LGBTQ Short Films

Rating: 9/10

BOY MEETS BOY REVIEW

Boy Meets Boy is actually a silent film, which means that there is no character dialogue, though of course there are words in the songs. The film is about a young school boy named MIN-SOO (Kim Hye-sung) who loves photography, and is gay. The story revolves around the meeting of a potential love interest who turns out to be connected to Min-soo in a pretty interesting way. The potential love interest is SEOK-I (Lee Hyun-jin) who seems a little rough around the edges but still manages to show his soft side.

The two together are just adorable, and despite there being no words, there is still this inherent chemistry that I think works on all levels. If for nothing else, I would say to watch this movie just because of the main characters, although the story itself is cute and in a way romantic.

Of course being a short film with no dialogue poses two challenges. First, how do you get audiences to know your characters? Second, how do you establish the relationships between these characters? Luckily, well-known and openly gay director Kim Jo Gwang-soo is truly brilliant and gives us exactly what we need to know using looks, stares, expressions, body language and of course our helpful inner thought fairy (Yeh Ji-won).

So let us talk about the fairy for a little bit. I know without a doubt that some of you who watch this will be saying “what the heck was that about?” I was caught off-guard the first time I watched this shortie (my nickname for a short film), but after watching it again, it made sense. It was a purposeful over-the-top illustration of the inner thoughts of someone who falls in love for the first time. In fact, the fairy’s presence is kind of similar to some anime that portray the inner thoughts of their characters through explicit imagination segments.

The fairy herself is simply the outward projection, a symbol, of what Min-soo is probably thinking about. Worries, fears, excitement, eagerness, and expectation are all coursing through his body all at once. So director Kim simply makes it a point to be very literal with the whole extreme nature of the circumstance by including this seemingly annoying and ridiculous fairy. I actually still laugh when I see her pop up, but I understand her purpose and without her the film would not be the same.

Aside from the fairy shenanigans, we also have this interpretive cartoon which is so old-school that you can’t help but find it endearing. I thought it was actually pretty clever to include it in the middle of what I would call a beautifully captured film to kind of illustrate innocence and naiveté in this new relationship. The colors are really bright and the music is cheesy and the figures are childish but it adds to the whole idea that this is a new experience for the character.

In fact, I remember reading an article about this film that stated that Director Kim based this story off of his first love experience. This tidbit of information actually made me appreciate the film even more. The fact that it is based on reality makes it all the more engaging.

Music was also a key factor in this shortie. The music in the fairy’s part was kind of corny but elsewhere in the film it was strategically chosen to enhance the mood and tone of the film. There were even parts of the film where the music and characters movements corresponded, such as the walking scene pictured above. I thought the use of music as an enhancer, as opposed to a detractor, was skillfully done.

Obviously there were symbols — probably the most prevalent one was the roll of film. If you notice, the roll of film is constantly moving. Whether it is rolling down a flight of stairs, rolling on the bus floor, or being passed from person to person, it is in a state of constant motion. I think that the film roll kind of represents fate or even life in a way. It is the thread that connects all of the characters, and similarly connects all people. Life is always moving, always changing and we must change along with it.

Cinematography was pretty well done in this shortie. The film was masterful at setting up crucial scenes via angles, viewpoints, and character placements. I loved the scene where the characters were walking away from each other and the camera literally zoomed in on Min-soo’s face with Seok-i in the background. Talk about piling up the angst even with no words!

And on the subject of no words I do have to say that the main actors were really good at expressing what they were feeling using only their, well, expressions. It must be quite difficult to portray a character using only body language but these two young actors did a great job. I could definitely tell there was a change in Min-soo over the course of the film; mainly it seemed he grasped his courage.

Finally we get to the themes and morals. I actually was a bit disappointed in the fact that the movie did not try to take the potential opportunity of showing gay life in Korea to another level, but I realize this was only a short film. I did appreciate Director Kim’s ability to portray something that is kind of taken for granted in a lot of dramas and movies. First loves are as common on television as they are in real life, but this film demonstrates first love for a group of individuals who are constantly told their love does not count or is in fact wrong. I thought it was, in a way, a hopeful message encouraging those whose love differs from the norm to keep fighting.

I thought the exploration of violence, in terms of individuals who do not like gay people, was well done, but it could have been better. Overall though, I think the main point of the film was to show a connected similarity between heterosexual and homosexual emotion. Gay people feel pain, sadness and even love the same way other people do, the only difference is the gender of the one they love.

Links to the Video:

[Part 1]

[Part 2]

Hope you like it!

 
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49 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Akosirhenz

    It’s Juno , in Jenny and Juno :DDDDD

     (1)


  2. leile

    I think another way to interpret the ‘silence’ of the film is because the treatment of anything that is related to gay/lesbian issues in Korea is keep silent.
    Gays are discriminated,so a majority of them do not come out of the closet thus why this film is ‘silent’.

     (0)


    • 2.1 only1tony

      Dear leile,

      That is actually a really great interpretation. I am really impressed.

      only1tony

       (0)


    • 2.2 kasieunha

      That’s interesting.

      I remember reading about gay pride parades in Korea. Apparently they do exist but everyone who participates wear masks to obscure their identities in fear of discrimination. It’s actually pretty sad. . .

      But I will go check this shortie out! Thanks for the review! :)

       (0)


    • 2.3 Ellie

      Its strange because there are a lot of cross dressing dramas out there lol. Girls pretending to be boys (i.e. Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful), and guys falling in love with them and being confused. It is different I guess because they are girls in the end but it does touch on the issue. Even Personal Taste where Lee Min Ho pretends to be gay. It’s strange that its in the media but in real life it’s still not okay.

       (0)


  3. zgznoona

    This is a cute little educational piece that I enjoyed long time ago.
    I’m actually pleasantly surprise since I wan’t expecting such a short film being chosen by you. But hey, I more than happy, since not only in Korea, but in many other parts of the world, people need to become more accepting of homosexuality.
    And how cute are Kim Hye-sung and Lee Hyun-jin in it.
    Thanks only1tony

     (0)


  4. kay

    awww i loved this shortie. these two are beyond cute.

     (0)


  5. mariam

    i saw this film about a year ago and it was so cute. i love it.

     (0)


  6. li~~~

    Actually, I found myself not liking the idea of the fairy too much. The film had such a quiet, beautiful vibe and then…all of a sudden…technicolor sugar pop?

    And I’m really not happy to call this a film with a message (even if it does have one). Because it honestly never felt abnormal or even all that different at all. It was just a sweet and simple love story. And maybe that is the message in and of itself, but I think labelling this as a moral, educational work really detracts from its charm.

     (0)


    • 6.1 Melissa

      yea…i also think it would have been better without the fairy…

       (0)


  7. Noelle

    I remember coming across this on youtube. I loved it. I gotta admit the fairy was annoying and I didn’t get it. Your observation on the fairy does shed some light on it but I still feel it clashed. I haven’t seen it in awhile so maybe I need to go back and watch it. I might be able to see what I wasn’t able to the first time.

    Thanks for the recap! Looking forward to the next one.

     (0)


  8. momoisluv

    i hope you recap the other film “friends”. I’d love to hear your opinion on that gay themed movie as well specially since the two movies were made by then same director and that I think that their stories were linked togother. thanks for the recap. :D

     (0)


    • 8.1 only1tony

      Dear momoisluv,

      I actually am planning on recapping “Just Friends?” soon which I think is the movie you are talking about. Just wait and see.

      only1tony

       (0)


  9. Carinne

    I saw this while HS was airing. Cute boys, cute story.

    If you want to try a dark story, try a 2010 Hong Kong film called “Amphetamine.” Sad story… beautifully filmed.

     (0)


    • 9.1 Carinne

      *waves hands* H-E-L-L-O only1tony.

      Hope to see more of your work around here.

       (0)


    • 9.2 only1tony

      Dear Carinne,

      I actually have seen “Amphetamine” (I am kind of an LGBTQ movie follower for all Asian Countries) and I actually really liked it. If I could review movies from other countries I definitely would choose this one. I promise though that I will try to fit more LGBTQ full length films, like Antique Bakery, The King and the Clown, Bungee Jumping of Their Own and my all time favorite Korean LGBTQ movie: No Regret.

      only1tony

       (0)


  10. 10 ZOee

    YEAH thanks for reviewing it!! I know this films means alot for the gay community. I showed the movie to my friend who is gay, but still on denial because of religious believes. When he saw it, he got sooo excited because for ones his life he saw i movie that showed an emotional heart-warming love.

     (0)


  11. 11 ricky the royal highness

    Thanks for the review, only1tony!

    The movie captured my interest from the moment the roll of film fell and rolled towards the guy with the cap. The bus scene was genius, to say the least. I admire both the main actors for being able to convey emotion without any spoken words, but Kim Hye-sung stole the show for me with his many expressions.

    Awesome. Just, awesome :)

     (0)


  12. 12 cranky

    Oohh I’ve always wanted to watch this but always got sidetracked by other stuff! Thanks for the links and your review~

     (0)


  13. 13 alua

    Not a fan of the fairy, but otherwise I like the film. Love the cinematography and music for the film-rolling-on-the-bus scene. Also when Min-Soo gets off the bus and walks at different speed, and you can see his feelings and thoughts on his face and in the way he stops, contemplates whether to turn around, starts walking again, etc.

    Happy to see that you reviewed this film!

     (0)


  14. 14 Mychocoheart

    Thanks for the review. I really love this short movie. So sweet and cute. I’m really happy to see a recap of it on dramabeans.

     (0)


  15. 15 ajewell

    Thanks so much for the review! I was under the impression it was a feature length film, so it was exciting to hear it was only 13 minutes!

    As for the fairy: I understood its purpose, but honestly, it felt out of place, and a bit overdone. It reminded me too much of those old Schoolhouse Rock commercials – only this one was singing about the dangers of hooking up on the streets.

    Still, it was cute for what it was, and I really liked the twist at the end, and the way it showed events unfold. Plus, I adored the choice of music. I’d give it a 4/5 stars – though without the fairy, it would’ve gotten a 4.5/5, lol.

     (0)


  16. 16 Syreolli

    I loved this short film (located it after seeing Lee Hyun Jin in Heartstrings). I live in the UK and lifstyles are quite tolerant here but in general I like how this movie highlights admiration and love from the two stars, the trails of young love and how it’s not explicit, vulgar or sordid, just beautifully acted and portrayed.
    I agree, the fairy did throw me a bit but the ending is lovely and really cute.

     (0)


  17. 17 laos7

    Thank you for the review and the links to the shortie <3
    I loved it, even the fairy ;)

     (0)


  18. 18 Valerie

    Truly amazing short film! I have to say – the director is brilliant and the cast does what it is supposed to do – make us feel what the main characters feel. I think it’s a bit better than the sequel, Just Friends, although that one is a wonderful shortie as well :)

    Thank you for the review!

    XoXo,
    Valerie

     (0)


  19. 19 dany

    I’ve just seen this, it’s great, beautiful music!

     (0)


  20. 20 djinni

    i saw this a few months ago and raved about it to all my friends. made me smile with its sweet ending.

     (0)


  21. 21 apple

    I love Kim Hye Sung. When he is out of army, he will make it big. Hope he can do some drama too.

    This is off topic but only1tony you didn’t give Ajusshi a rating. I am curious.

     (0)


    • 21.1 only1tony

      Dear apple,

      I did not give Ahjussi a rating because I did not have the rating system in place, but if you want to know my rating for it, it is:

      Genre: Action/Thriller

      Rating: 9.5/10

      Hope this works for you.

      only1tony

       (0)


  22. 22 Rachael

    Thanks for the review only1tony! I’ll be checking out the links as this is always something I’ve been thinking about watching, but never really got around to. After you’re review it’s the push for me to watch.

     (0)


  23. 23 conan

    I’ve watched this previously and found it amazingly adorable. I have to admit when I started watching it I was expected full on gay action but found it descriptive enough for me to understand it. The little song number was so wacky and random its too good to be true! Loved it.

    Thank you so much for the review! Can’t wait for what other things you have up your sleeves :D

     (0)


  24. 24 msim

    We just watched it while having breakfast, thanks to your review.
    I didn’t think this site could be any more amazing but obviously I was wrong: only1tony is a great addition to the general awesomeness of the dramabeans world.

    Loved the film: so heartwarming and cute. Made me wish that all homophobia one day will disappear. Can you imagine the possibilities if k-dramas could incorporate gay storylines as casually as straight storylines?

    On a side note: most French cinemas still show a short film prior to the main film – and I really wish “shorties” were shown more often in all cinemas all over the world.
    They are a way to introduce us to new ideas and new directors.

     (0)


    • 24.1 only1tony

      Dear msim,

      I actually wish movies would do that too, although some movies like pixar movies have shorties before the main feature. Also, on a side note, I love LGBTQ French films/television series.

      only1tony

       (0)


      • 24.1.1 msim

        I hear you! I’ve seen “Les bleus” (tv series) and “Juste une question d’amour” (best tv movie ever) too many times to count.

        Can’t wait for your other reviews.

        A bientôt!

         (0)


  25. 25 Alvina

    Thank you for writing this! I feel like Kim Hye-sung is sometimes overlooked because of the roles he’s played in his movies and tv-series. He’s usually the “beta” to a lot of the other characters. A common man to the extraordinary other…

    I think that takes hard work too, and his cute-ness in this movie was amazing and left a lasting impression.

     (0)


    • 25.1 Alvina

      Random aside: I heard that they took no pay for this movie. Was it for a charity or something, or because they wanted the experience?

      Also: Did anyone see KHS’s movie Glove? Is it any good?

       (0)


  26. 26 Jules

    I remember watching this! It’s a great “shortie” :)

     (0)


  27. 27 sara

    the world is changing and more and more ppl are accepting gays and lesbians….korea has to learn that humans don’t live in the past where gays/lesbians were called abnormal we live in the now :)

     (0)


  28. 28 Isvarmt

    Ah, I watched this a few years ago. After watching the angst-fest that is “No Regret(s)” this was a refreshing movie :-) I was surprised to see it reviewed here – nonetheless, it was a great review. :)

     (0)


  29. 29 crizzyville

    so sweet.. i like the naive/innocent take on love by the writer.. thanks for sharing!

     (0)


  30. 30 Paula

    Thanks so much for the review, I just watched the film and it was very well done! I appreciated it :-) I haven’t seen many Korean LGBTQ movies, other then Bungee Jumping On Their Own, but I thought this was very well done.

     (0)


  31. 31 malta

    Thanks for the review. This looks way cute.

     (0)


  32. 32 Kosmos

    Thank you! thank you! thank you! thank you! I have watched this short film like 10 times in the past year and every time I watch it…. I LOVE IT!!!!! Your review captured everything I have felt for this film and more… Oh much much more :) Keep up the great work cause I am loving your insight into K-Movies :-)

    XOXOXOXOXOXO

     (0)


  33. 33 Cynthia

    Thanks for the review – it’s a sweet, short film that I really enjoyed.

    I must say, the inclusion of the fairy character gave me two immediate reactions:

    1.) It reminded me of the film that Marlo Thomas did back in the 70′s, called “Free To Be Me and You” which actually conveyed the same message of equality, and used the same pop-art imaging.

    2.) Here in the States, the term “Fairy” is still a negative connotation for gay. I’m wondering it plays a deeper meaning in this film than what’s shown on the screen?

     (0)


  34. 34 Inn

    I’ve watched it via Youtube. I didn’t mind the fairy much, but, do mind the continuity of this ‘shortie’.

    For example, during their first encounter, Seok-I was holding the bus handle with his right hand. The minute he’s giving Min Soo his film casing back, now his right hand is around the bus pole. Then, the the next frame, his hand is back holding the bus handle. It is symbolic?

     (0)


  35. 35 CKDexter

    Thanks for the “shortie” review, Tony! I would have never stumbled across this little film otherwise.

    I have to disagree with your opinions about the fairy though. I think the film was doing just fine showing the young boy’s nervousness and anticipation without the annoying fairy. I think they could have cut it completely and had a better film for it.

    The film was at it’s best when it was expressing minor moments, and extending each of them into breathlessly magical turning points. Major kudos to the two main actors for putting so much into their non-speaking roles.

     (0)


  36. 36 Goyangi

    Thanks for the links! I’ve been wanting to watch this. I don’t think I realized just how short of a short film this was.

     (0)


  37. 37 Rovi

    Even though it is 13 minutes long (wondering what’s the 16 minutes version; wanna DL it…), it’s so refreshing and light-hearted, conveying all emotions in it. And there’s the thought that short and simple is more beautiful minimalistic side of it; no frills or nonsense attached.

    And the mains are very lovely… :)

     (0)


  38. 38 kittikiki

    there are two shorts that follow this isn’t there?
    Just Friends? and LOVE 100ºC are by the same director and I think they were part of a collection of gay-themed short films by him

     (0)


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