ONE FINE SPRING DAY (2001)
Subtle and subdued, the intoxicating ebullience and dolour of love is on display when a young pair fall for each other during a work project
Unhurried and often demonstrating the power of silence to make us understand the connection between characters, One Fine Spring Day is a gentle and patient view of the explosion of love, followed by a more sobering evaluation of the actual situation.
There is a longing on display from the characters and this is mirrored in its film craft, as we are regularly left lingering on certain frames. A chance for us to ponder, just as the onscreen character does the same.
Sang-woo (Yoo Ji-tae – Attack the Gas Station, Oldboy) is a sound engineer who meets radio host Eun-soo (Lee Young-ae – Joint Security Area, Lady Vengeance) on a trip to record sounds from nature.
As the pair record the relaxing sound of bamboos rustling in the wind, a connection between the two begins and they start a secret relationship.
They attempt to keep the radio station in the dark about them, but soon the excitement of that new relationship starts to wane and the pair must decide if this is a coupling with long-term legs.
Eun-soo is also contributing to caring for his elderly grandmother, herself struggling to accept the passing of her husband, she fruitlessly waits at the train station for his impossible return. Despite the late stages of her dementia, she is still on hand to provide the film’s hardest truth in the closing stages.
The sound is 50% of a movie, it is said, but that even split is shifted here. The sound is absolutely vital, it is what brings Sang-woo and Eun-soo together, but it is also figurative of love – a loud sound that can disappear into the silence just as quickly.
There is a connection to nature, the focus of the radio show and their recordings, in how love – perhaps the most natural of human emotions – is embedded in our worlds as much as leaves blowing in the wind.
The cinematography and framing of One Fine Spring Day is regularly startling, as luscious as any love story or romance itself. This is often combined with a colour palette of fine detail. In one scene, the bright green of Eun-soo’s car blends with the manicured grass in the background and the strips of her shirt in the foreground. A postcard perfect vision.
The film gets Yoo Ji-tae and Lee Young-ae on screen together before both would contribute to differing sections of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy and their chemistry here is a vital cog in turning the film’s gears.
This is a romance which provides a candid view of the trappings of love. How good it can feel and how much it can hurt. That early relationship honeymoon period giving way to the prospect of something more serious. Bittersweet, sometimes life’s largest pockets of suffering spring from a place of love.