a decidedly Korean take on the rom-com, Petty Romance
is the sort of thing that seems an unlikely hybrid on paper, mixing
twee romantic comedy with manga-style sex ‘n’ violence
animation. In fact, the film comes together surprisingly well,
resulting in a pleasing, if lightweight affair.
Cartoonist Jung-bae (Lee Sun-Kyun) is a talented artist but rotten
storyteller, and so when a competition is announced for a $100,000
prize to create a new adult comic book, he knows he needs to find
a writer. He eventually teams up with sex advice columnist Da-rim
(Choi Kang-hee), who would seem to be the perfect choice. But
in reality, she’s a sexually inexperienced, socially awkward
misfit. Nevertheless, in classic rom-com style, the ill-fitting
couple slowly start to develop a relationship, as they work on
the violent and erotic comic book (it’s scenes from this
we see animated a variety of styles throughout the film).
Had this been an American movie, it would be the comic book artist
who was seen as the nerdy, socially inept character, so it’s
good to see him here as the more stable of the two. The film,
however, belongs to Choi Kang-hee, who is ideal as the rather
klutzy and delusional Da-rim. It could have been a fairly thankless
role, because for much of the film she comes across as being rather
self-centred, but the actress manages to make her appealing anyway.
Petty Romance is not exactly Earth-shattering
stuff. But it is a thoroughly enjoyable and suitably eccentric
variation on the genre, and worth checking out.
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