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Il Mare

4 Ratings: 3.8
Il Mare, meaning "the sea" in Italian, is a 2000 South Korean film starring Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Jung-jae.

Il Mare is a 2000 South Korean film starring Jun Ji-hyun (Gianna Jun) and Lee Jung-jae. The title, Il Mare, means "The Sea" in Italian, and is the name of the seaside house which is the setting of the … see full wiki

Director: Hyun-seung Lee
Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy
Release Date: September 9, 2000
MPAA Rating: PG
1 review about Il Mare

Korean Movie "Il Mare" Was Not Better than the American Remake "The Lake House"

  • Feb 25, 2010
Il Mare is the original film of the American remake The Lake House. I loved the American version of this film, or at least I did the last time I viewed it. I went back and watched the trailer to confirm these sentiments and felt chills from that little preview. I remember that Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock gave stellar performances, and I was surprised and amazed at the entire story. I cried and felt happy when the romance worked out the way I imagined.

Perhaps part of my dissatisfaction with the original Korean film Il Mare stems from the fact that I had already seen that remake. The initial surprise and amazement of a unique story was spoiled by the fact that I knew what was going to happen. For those who have yet to see either film, I suggest watching this one first. It will make it easier to gage which one you like more.

Now, don't get me wrong with the lower rating. There was nothing wrong with this film, but it's not one I will want to watch repeatedly. This is quite different for me since the other Korean films I loved, My Sassy Girl and Windstruck, I have already watched four times since I wrote my original reviews. On a bit of a side note, I have to say that there are a ton of similarities between those two films! There were so many intricate details that connected the movies, and even Cyborg She. Part of me wants to write a whole different review in which I compare those subtleties, but alas, that is for another day.

Getting back on track, my disappointment not only stems from the fact that I had seen the film before. Actually, I could tell that the film was not written and directed by Jae-young Kwak, who is simply an amazing storyteller and director! Even the compelling acting skills of Gianna Jun could not make me enjoy the film more. Part of what endears this Korean actress to me are the roles she has played in Kwak's screenplays. Her acting in Il Mare felt a little boring and forced compared to her dynamic roles in the other films I saw. 

In fact, the most compelling aspect about this movie were the actors. Even though their performances felt a little flat, the romance between Han Sung-hyun (played by Jung-Jae Lee) and Kim Eun-ju (played by Gianna Jun) felt natural. Their relationship was destined to be despite the unique circumstances under which they met. In fact, neither one seemed to question the mystical elements of the mailbox but instead allowed a friendship to develop during a tumultuous and lonely period in both their lives.

Some disappointments in this film included the lack of memorable music and the overly indulgent slow periods. It wasn't a long film, but I felt like I waited forever for something to happen. These silent moments would have been more appreciated as a stylistic twist to the film if there were less of them. Also, without an amazing soundtrack, many of the emotions that the director tried to invoke in the audience fell flat, which was especially disappointing at the end of the movie during the climax I had been waiting for. Instead, it came off pedantic. Some important details to the film were also not highlighted enough for my tastes, such as Il Mare itself, the little house by the sea. I felt like the house in the American remake was better crafted with an explicit background story that did not leave the viewer wondering what was so special about the building other than its mailbox. 

Despite my disappointments, the film did have some amazing scenic shots of the house by the sea. The house itself looked to be such a lonely place when there was no tide. It was a beautiful location to stage a romance. And of course there was Cola, the adorable dog that happened to look like an overly hairy rat. I loved that dog, and I really thought it was cute how Cola connected the two people despite their different time periods.

Overall, there were some genuinely sweet moments that stood out despite the movie's failings, such as the scenes near the mailbox, which were very well-crafted. I especially liked the situations surrounding the gifts that the characters gave each other.

Unfortunately, until I watch The Lakehouse again, I won't truly know which one I enjoyed more. Currently, at least, the American remake stands out as a better paced and compelling story with similar situations for the main stars. 

What did you think of this review?

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June 30, 2014
^_^ Adrianna, nice review, but I think that: "Il Mare" is way better than the "The Lake House."

Slowly paced! this is what others point out as one of the flaws of the original, but for me, what they pointed out as its weakness is actually its strength. Though the original is slowly paced, however, it is paced in a clever way. It is paced in a slow and natural way that allow the audiences to piece together clues and events without spoon-feeding. It cleverly stimulates the viewers' mind and emotion. The lesser dialogue allows the acting of the two lovely protagonists and the beautiful and melancholic scenery do the talking; just as the cliche goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Il Mare, compared to its Hollywood counterpart -- where every minor subplot is made into a major one, and having to explain and spoon-feed everything to the audience -- is simpler but by no means less effective. With its simple and less complicated story, it centers the thunder and limelight on the two lovely protagonists and not giving anything substantial to its supporting cast. This make the audiences to be totally immersed in the story and develop a genuine concern for the characters they are watching.

Honestly, I've seen the original first, and the remake second. But this is not the only contributing factor why I feel and think that the original trumps over the remake. In a lot of ways, I prefer the original. For one, is the climax scene: the climax in Il Mare almost had me in tears, whereas the one in The Lake House felt glossed over too quickly and too obvious; this climax scene was also more heart wrenching in the original because the male lead was doing something as a favor to the female lead when the key event happens, but this sense of self- sacrifice was absent in the remake and there was just no believable motivation for Keanu's action leading to the accident.

While The Lake House was a decent romance flick, I don't think it reached the depths of the original. For me and in terms of musical score, acting, plot, scenery and the emotions it evoke, Il Mare is way better than the The Lake House.

:) just expressing my thoughts...
March 03, 2010
Good review. Yeah, I think in terms of two diffreent versions of a similar story, the one you view first sometimes seems better than the one you view second. I had wanted to see Lake House when it first came out in theaters, but I never got around to it. I'll have to see it at some point, though.
March 03, 2010
I couldn't agree more with you. I want to see "Lake House" again because I am curious if I still believe it's better than this original Korean version. Once I watch that one again, I can let you know which one I think you will like more.
February 26, 2010
Very nice review although I do think that you really didn't enjoy this movie as much because you already know its "swing" (you saw the LAKE HOUSE). Ha-ha! I can't really say that I disagree with you that the movie is slow, (it is!) but such is the case with most Korean films. Asian movies also usually ask the viewer what the motivations of its characters are while Western movies spoon-feed the viewer the details. Korean cinema is differently paced, but I have to say I really enjoyed reading your review; your analysis, your enthusiasm in your writing just shines through! Keep it up! Oh, if you want another taste of romance, check out 'APRIL SNOW'.
February 26, 2010
Yes, I agree with you. If I had seen this movie before "The Lakehouse," I probably would have rated this one a bit higher. 
Although the Korean movies tend to be a bit slower, I've found it doesn't dissuade me from liking them if the story and characters are well-written, as with "Windstruck" and "My Sassy Girl." The slow parts really give me a chance to connect with the motivations of the characters, as you explained. That's what sets them at a higher caliber than American movies.
Thank you so much for the warm praises regarding my review, analysis, and enthusiasm for the genre. It really makes my day! I feel like such a "noob" when it comes to movie reviews, especially the Korean ones since I only watched them after you recommended some to me! LOL! 
I'll add "April Snow" to my future viewing list. When I'm done watching it, I will have to check out your review!
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4 Ratings: +3.8
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Il Mare
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