Movie Review: Finding Mr. Destiny//Kim Jong-Ok Chatgi

When I first discovered the uber delicious and one of the better actors of Korean media – Gong Yoo – was serving his military enlistment and hence, there was a dearth of stuff with him in it. I quickly ran through his previous projects and then waited for almost a year to savor his newest film – Finding Mr. Destiny. As if getting to watch one’s favorite actor was not enough, they also shot some parts of the film in my favorite country – India.

Hence, much anticipation and expectation pursued.

Finding Mr. Destiny is a rom-com about a freakishly meticulous Han Gi-Joon (Gong Yoo) helping a whimsical Seo Ji-Woo (Lim Soo-Jung) in finding her first love. The film spans through two different stories set in different times, which transcend into one, almost beautifully. Almost. Ji-Woo had met a fascinating stranger during her solo-travel to India’s Blue City (Jodhpur) ten years ago. However, in her naivety, she tempts the fate and levels her newly-found soul mate in the hope that destiny will bring them together again.

The tale of her time spent with the stranger is told through vibrant shots and pages of her diary. As the diary is being read by the bumbling entrepreneur Gi-Joon, who uses his sharp research skills to track down people’s first love; we see an extremely dashing Gong Yoo as the stranger from ten years ago. In the high-saturation Rajasthani backdrop, Gong-Yoo looks fantastic, but sadly, that is the only part where we get to salivate over him. For the rest of the film, he just acts wonderfully.

The real Gi-Joon, however, is far from the perfect man from Ji-Woo’s memories. However, she finds it difficult to move on as the memory of first love stops her from accepting anyone new, and thus, she ends up on a journey of shorts with Gi-Joon to find her Mr. Destiny.

Ji-Woo’s character is well etched and extremely consistent. Leaving her soul mate up to fate wasn’t a one off; she habitually skips the endings of novels and leaves the last piece of cookies in the bag, as she likes to save the best for later and hence, never really reaching the end. She is forced by her dad to find her first love after she rejects a huge rock from an extremely eligible pilot. Uninterested in the beginning, she ends up being curious in her search thanks to mister persistent and capriciously hygienic Gi-Joon. Her character is extremely likable as a girl next door, with her messy hair and bee-stung lips. She gets to show her heavily made up stylish look when she is pushed to replace a missing actor during a show of her Chicago-like musical.

Gi-Joon’s character is equally well honed. He is quirky, mild-mannered, and not in your face. Having quit his job at a travel agency due to his extreme honest opinion of mouthing “tsunami” instead of “Bali” when someone mentions Indonesia, he starts his own business in a niche area of finding one’s true love. Once he gets on the case, he sticks to it, no-matter-what. However, he is not the usual cool Gong Yoo one is used to, but an anal freak who pants while climbing up the stairs and cannot kick the football to save his life.

The biggest flaw of the film was its other characters – none of them unrealistic or badly acted but way too many of them. There is Ji-Woo’s sister and her doctor fiancée, a well-meaning single dad of the two girls, Gi-Joon’s sister and her husband who shares his home and office area with Gi-Joon, also a cute daughter who delivers one cute dialogue, plus the actors from the stage where Ji-Woo works. There are way too many people and way too less time given the two stories in different time space, and hence, the other characters end up being meaningless.

Despite all this the vivacious and high-saturation shots of India (a very handsome Gong Yoo playing street cricket. Woohoo!) and DOF shots of Seoul stick with you. The leads have done a fair job and the film will make the eternal romantics like me happy knowing that serendipitously, everyone meets their Mr. Destiny.

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