Director: Byun Sung-hyun
Cast: Ji Sung, Kim A-joong, Shin So-yul, Kang Kyeong-joon, Kim Seong-oh, Jeong Soo-yeong
Runtime: 1 hr 54 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual References)
Released By: Encore Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Opening Day: 16 May 2013
Synopsis: Here comes the brave, hot sexy idol! Devastated by a recent break-up, Hyun-seung (Ji Sung) can’t get a grip on life. After learning his ex-girlfriend has a wonderful new boyfriend, he struggles with sleep and seethes with jealousy. One night, he receives a mysterious phone call from a stranger. Even with flawless beauty and seemingly perfect boyfriend, Yun-jung (Kim A-joong) feels deprived of real affection. She sets up a plan to get his complete attention by spicing up their relationship with a sexy phone call. But the guy on the other end of the line isn’t her boyfriend! Don’t hesitate. Be frank! Don’t be shy. Play wild! Everything you need to know about R-rated relationships. It doesn’t get hotter than this!
Raunch meets rom-com in the Korean crowdpleaser “My Phone Sex Partner”, which in other territories has been given a perhaps sexier English title “Whatcha Wearin”. Like its Hollywood brethren (that includes the many Judd Apatow produced and/or directed movies), it doesn’t so much as tinker with the boy-meets-girl formula as add a layer of naughty – but like the best of its genre, there is something winning about the actors, the characters and the situations the characters find themselves in that ultimately makes the entire package delightfully entertaining.
The couple at the heart of this romance is the recently dumped Hyun-seung (Ji Sung) and the attached-but-disenchanted Yun-jung (Kim Ah Joong). Their meet-cute happens over the telephone one evening, when Yun-jung misdials her boyfriend’s number and unwittingly gets into an accidental phone sex session with Hyun-seung. Though, as convention dictates, Hyun-sueng and Yun-jung will start off antagonistic – especially after the latter is left red-faced when she finds out her mistake – it isn’t long before they find themselves bonding through sharing in each other’s romantic quandaries.
Is it any wonder where they will end up? Well not really, but what matters is the journey to that inevitable destination of happily-ever-after, one which director Byun Seung-hoo (who also co-wrote the script with Kim Min-soo) makes both funny and touching. Between Hyun-seung and Yun-jung, there is definitely something in their respective circumstances you will identify with – whether the heartbroken Hyun-seung thinking back at how he could have treasured his ex-girlfriend more or the disillusioned Yun-jung who has been stuck in the same relationship for too long with a boyfriend that has grown too complacent.
And in the midst of their emotional doldrums, it is the sincerity and spark between the pair that is unmistakable, a union of kindred souls that proves disarmingly endearing. Most significantly, Seung-hoo isn’t afraid to address the obvious physical attraction between his couple, manifested both in the way they openly share intimate information about each other over the phone at the start as well as their subsequent meet-ups. Rather than shy away from the topic of sex, he tackles it head-on, which gives a refreshing and realistic modern-day spin on urban relationships today.
But rom-coms are often only as good as the chemistry between the actors, and it is in this respect that the movie truly shines. Both are appealing in their own right – Ji being a surprising combination of emotional and independent; while Kim exuding both sass and femininity in equal measure – and the scenes with them together simply sparkle with verve. There is never a doubt that the two are great for each other, and that assurance not only makes you root for them more but also keeps you waiting with bated breath throughout an extended finale specifically designed to tease.
Yet to be fair, Seung-hoo’s dexterity in applying a generic rom-com formula in a less than typical fashion extends beyond the finale. Particularly impressive is how he stitches together one of the first conversations between the pair that evolves seamlessly from an argument they have while Hyun-seung is drunk and despondent along a dark alley to a gentle and intimate exchange with both lying in their respective beds – in particular, the cinematography in this sequence deserves special mention, brilliantly conveying the connection that develops between them. Whereas many rom-coms are good only in parts, this one has great parts that make a satisfyingly engaging whole.
And indeed, its achievement is perhaps even more significant as one of the first rom-coms of the Korean film industry to add raunch into the mix. Yet the naughty talk and bare flesh isn’t simply a cheap titillating tactic, but a invigorating spin on a genre that could certainly do with more such breaths of fresh air. It’s no wonder then that the movie has come out of nowhere to emerge one of the biggest box-office hits of Korea last year – now let’s just hope the inevitable copycats don’t ruin the raunch-com too soon.