BE WITH YOU (2018)
The star power of Son Ye-jin and So Ji-sub coalesce on this melodramatic fantasy where a mother passes away only to reappear the following rainy season
The camera focus is softened, the star cast has been assembled but in this sweet love tale we find a central character falling victim to the classic heart-breaking death before matters have barely started to develop.
The kicker in Be With You, adapted from the Takuji Ichikawa novel of the same name, is a return from the grave. The returning spirit here is Soo Ah (Son Ye-jin – The Classic, A Moment to Remember, April Snow), a mother who passes away but promises to return during the next rainy season. Waiting for her is husband Woo Jin (So Ji-sub – Rough Cut, The Battleship Island) and their adorable young son Ji Ho (Kim Ji-hwan).
It seems this hefty promise is one that young Ji Ho is holding onto more as a crutch to support him after the death of his mother. As Ji Ho pesters his father for details of the coming rainy season, Woo Jin attempts to handle life as a single parent.
However, this promise is more than a mere flight of imagination and when the pair go looking for Soo Ah in the first rain, they manage to find her. The catch – she has no memory of them or her past life.
She returns to their household and begins to discover more about her apparent husband and son, with the family slowly growing back together. As we unpack the past that bought Soo Ah and Woo Jin to each other, we begin to learn that their love story is one littered with complexity, surprise and foreboding for their future.
The vast popularity of Son Ye-jin and So Ji-sub, pitched in the popular romance-melodrama space, will undoubtedly ensure that Be With You finds a broad audience. Indeed, the film seems acutely aware of the importance of casting those stars, often leaving them to fill the screen and drive the film’s purpose.
When the film’s fantasy elements become apparent, this enables the audience to drop their barriers of feasibility. A notion they will certain need as the story becomes increasingly fanciful.
Films about loss possess a unique power to move. Here we touch on the notion of what we would give to see our loved one again. Even if this time was clipped, or involved nothing more than one more family dinner time, it would still mean everything.
Rain, such a vital element in so many Korean film from the young love in The Shower (1979) to the serial killing in Memories of Murder (2003), is pivotal in both the narrative and mood here.
Be With You attempts to tread a line between being sad and uplifting, largely achieving this aim. It is certainly a sweet outing and will get its fair share of cinema seat tears. The more jaded of viewer may find it overly sentimental, while its fantasy turns have the danger of removing you from the real-life emotions it tries to invoke. Fortunately, it is packed with enough charm and competency to stick most of its lands.