MOVIE CLUB REVIEW: A Werewolf Boy
In 1960s Korea, Sun Yi’s (Park Bo Young) illness leaves her friendless and forces her family to move to a remote village. When a feral boy (Song Joong Ki) shows up, to Sun Yi’s dismay, her mother decides to take him in, and names him Chul Soo. Sun Yi slowly warms up to the doglike Chul Soo, and Chul Soo begins demonstrating inexplicable powers.
Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다: Let’s start this review with what everyone wants to know about A Werewolf Boy: how adorable was Song Joong Ki?
Only 만: Song Joong Ki was pretty dreamy. He was surprisingly believable as the feral Chul Soo. Or, as believable as anyone can be as a teenaged werewolf.
Junggugeo Kaenada: The title of the movie pretty much sums up what this movie is about: a supernatural teenage romance. Two youths from differing backgrounds share a pure, unconditional love, until adult fear and hatred threaten to separate them. What did you like about this movie’s take on this classic premise?
Only: I liked how weird it was. Like I said before, Song Joong Ki was surprisingly believable as Chul Soo, down to the way he moved, his tics and mannerisms. He also convincingly portrayed Chul Soo’s growing attachment to Sun Yi, and the bond between the two of them. Thanks to him, Chul Soo was lovable without being ridiculous.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I liked that this generic story of teenage love is framed as the memories of an elderly Sun Yi on her return to the house where she first met Chul Soo. It added an air of melancholy to the story, knowing that Chul Soo is no longer in Sun Yi’s life.
Only: I liked how well the film evoked both nostalgia and melancholy, not only with the framing story, but also with the moody visuals. This is not to say that the story was humourless, because there were a lot of funny moments as well, but A Werewolf Boy never tipped over into horror or farce, even with the smarmy rich brat, Ji Tae (Yoo Yeon Suk) and his terrible hair.
Junggugeo Kaenada: For the first half of the movie, I really enjoyed the character of Ji Tae, because he was such an ass; hanging out just to lord his charity over Sun Yi’s family, and assuming that Sun Yi would marry him. It almost made me forgive Yoo Yeon Suk for “Warm and Cozy”. Ji Tae in combination with Sun Yi’s mother, who was both deferential and dismissive of him, was quite entertaining.
Only: Park Bo Young portrayed Sun Yi as pretty unlikable to start with, though I had some sympathy for her in being engaged to Ji Tae. Later on, it was sweet how she opened up to the devoted Chul Soo.
But, we’ve gushed enough. Was there anything you didn’t like about A Werewolf Boy?
Junggugeo Kaenada: If it wasn’t for the frame of an elderly Sun Yi providing a sober perspective on the past, I would have found the entire story of Sun Yi and Chul Soo too predictable and cloying for my taste. The relationship was clearly doomed from the start. I don’t even like the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, so I gain little enjoyment from watching selfish adults and misunderstanding tear young love apart.
Only: I’m not a huge fan of doomed love stories, but I have to admit that this was really well done. Despite it being about a werewolf and teenage girl, it was a believable first love, and I was rooting for them, even though I knew from the start it wasn’t going to work out.
Junggugeo Kaenada: Agreed; the execution was good for such a generic premise. What did you not like about A Werewolf Boy?
Only: I didn’t love the end, though it made sense in terms of the story.
Only: I liked the dreamy and fairy tale quality of Chul Soo and Sun Yi's reunion, but I just couldn’t get behind the idea of Sun Yi tearfully apologizing for leaving him behind and then doing it again in the cold light of morning. Yes, it made sense in the story, if you take it as an elaborate allegory for first love. When you realize that Chul Soo was really there waiting for Sun Yi all along, it just seems heartless.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I found myself trying to justify her actions. As in, what else could Sun Yi do? Bring this young man home with her when he has no personal identification? And, how volatile is he? I would like to think that by deciding not to sell the property, she was hoping to keep Chul Soo safe from the world. Maybe, she might even visit again? It was a sad ending, and I’m grasping at straws like poor Chul Soo probably was as he watched her drive away.
Only: Maybe. I did the same thing you did. It shows how wrapped up we were in the story that we wanted it to work out for them, against all odds.
Junggugeo Kaenada: I am surprised by how affected I was by the ending. So, even though I found the story of teenage love predictable, I was moved to tears by the elderly Sun Yi’s guilt, and the eternally youthful Chul Soo’s unwavering commitment and love.
Junggugeo Kaenada: The movie’s surprise ending saved it for me. Perhaps, I would have gone from being pleasantly surprised by the movie to loving it for delving into uncharted territory if they had focused more on the present day. I wanted to know what Sun Yi or her spunkier granddaughter (also played by Park Bo Young) were going to do next.
Only: Regardless, A Werewolf Boy is an absorbing and slightly bizarre tale of first love, with great performances and fantastic visuals. And yes, Song Joong Ki is very cute in it.