All About My Wife (2012)
All About My Wife is a 2012 romantic comedy directed by Min Kyu-dong and is about two people becoming complacent with each other and what happens to them as a couple. The husband Doo-hyun is played by Lee Sun-kyun and his wife Jung-in is played by Im Soo-jung. The husband sets off a chain of events with the next door neighbor and local “Casanova” played by Ryu Seung-ryong from Miracle in Cell No. 7 fame.
I was looking forward to watching this movie. I had heard it was one of the bigger hits in Korea so I had high expectations. In the end, it was a silly little look at marriage and the various stages of relationships.
The film relies a great deal on gimmicky and slightly crude humor instead of what I considered funny and clever dialogue between the characters. There were several amusing moments between Jung-in and Doo-hyun that were easy to relate to. When couples are together for any length of time their barriers disappear and modesty gets pushed aside. These scenes, though a bit over the top, were also realistic and I understood some of the difficulties they were facing. I felt for Jung-in as a frustrated housewife and for Doo-hyun as the equally disappointed husband.
The story is predictable. There are quirky scenes and entertaining antics but one the biggest details I noticed was the growth of Jung-in as an independent woman. The other characters seemed to revolve around her and served more as a backdrop to her story than having their own identities. The out of touch and obviously clueless husband Doo-hyun had his own journey and realizations but it didn’t grab me as much as Jung-in’s.
At one point, Jung-in is looked down on for her seeming lack of purpose in life. It provides an insight to her prickly demeanor. I found this part of the movie very telling of cultural perceptions of a woman’s role in society. Whether women are housewives and mothers or work outside the home is often strongly judged by other people. Opinionated and straightforward women can come across as threatening to those around them. Jung-in is one of these women. While this plot was used for some laughs, it also felt too serious and out of place in what I thought was supposed to be a wacky comedy.
It was interesting to watch Ryu Seung-ryong as Sung-ki, the Casanova. On one hand, he was portrayed as a depressed and tortured soul but on the other hand he seemed overly cartoonist and ridiculous. It was difficult to take anything his character did seriously, even when I think I was supposed to. Ryu Seung-ryong did have a deadpan look I found humorous.