[REVIEWS] “Like For Likes” Starring Yoo Ah In: Classic, Feel-Good Film With Gifted Cast
“Like For Likes” BTS
“Like For Likes” Stills
Like For Likes received mix reviews from the local audience. Some critics stated that it was more fitting as a TV series rather than movie -which I totally get why, since having four stories in one film is not enough to dig deeper on the issue of each couple- while the others praised the movie for bringing up the feminist issue and SNS trend among younger generation. In addition to the positive note, Like For Likes was reported to have garnered 70% female audience, higher than that of “A Werewolf Boy”.
Like For Likes premiered on February 17 in Korea. Its first week resulted in fourth place on the box office charts with 476,798 moviegoers. Afterwards, the film is screening in 17 major locations in North America (more information here). Here are two reviews from international viewers who got to watch the movie in the U.S.
Part 1 written by Raine from ‘Raine’s Dichotomy’
Raine’s review of “Like for Likes”
If you’re looking for a cute, feel-good film then look no further than “Like for Likes”, a film directed by Park Hyeon-jin (“Lovers of 6 Years”) and starring an incredibly gifted cast. It focuses on dating in the internet age where activity on social media can make and break relationships. The film released in South Korea February 17 and opened in New York February 25.
“Like for Likes” tells the story of three different, but interconnected, couples who find love with major support from social media. While social media communication and “liking” posts play major roles in the romantic lives of these six people, the impact of the social media platform in the film wasn’t as strong as the title, or the preview, suggested. Perhaps it’s because social media is already rampant and an integral part of life in 2016. There was nothing that stood out in the film that said, “Look at what life with social media is like!” A comparison to the past would’ve done the film good in that sense.
As for the couples, Yoo Ah-in played actor No Jin-woo who, although arrogant, is true enough to himself to go after what he wants, which is the love of screenwriter Jo Kyeong-ah (Lee Mi-yeon). Their social media relationship focuses on how she blocks him from her account and forces him to source information on her through friends and news outlets. Even though Yoo and Lee had amazing chemistry on screen and their scenes together were potent, the storyline that carried them through the two-hour runtime was less than riveting. She’s trying to book him as an actor in her drama, and the circular nature of the hiring process is not forgiving in a film where relationships drive the action rather than the plot.
More intriguing was the romance between the two forty-somethings, Jeong Seong-chan (Kim Joo-hyeok) and Ham Joo-ran (Choi Ji-woo). They embody the popular “cohabitation” love story that is mixed with “we’re just friends” and using social media to get Joo-ran a date. The two fuss like an old married couple and realize slowly that they want to be more than friends. What makes this relationship so winning is how casual they are. Yes, their friendship develops a bit too quickly, but it can be overlooked because of how they grow together as a direction correlation to their friendship. Kim is a master of facial expressions as the lively chef Seong-chan and he brings out the best in Choi.
The third couple, the youngest, was the most touching. Kang Ha-neul in an outstanding performance plays Lee Soo-ho, a young composer who lost his hearing and is now profoundly deaf. He has overcome it and has most people fooled into believing he has no disability, but he hasn’t fooled himself. His disability has quelled him into severe shyness and insecurity. His situation and youth immediately evokes sympathy, but it magnifies when he falls head over heels for effervescent producer Jang Na-yeon (Esom). Theirs is a first love story seen in many places, but the struggles that Soo-ho faces is what colors it more deeply. Their social media contact reflects the new form of written communication that social media has shaped. Men and women must learn to read between the lines in order to promote romance, a skill that Soo-ho distinctly lacks and one that Na-yeon is willing to teach.
Each couple has its struggles: dealing with single parenthood, dealing with aging, dealing with disability. “Like for Likes” explore these issues and how Korean society pressures the people in the couples to keep secrets and hide and change themselves to deal with them. The romances they develop help to assuage and work with the issues. Unfortunately, the issues aren’t too deeply explored, which keeps the movie on par with a light rom-com. This isn’t a bad thing, but I would’ve preferred to do some digging into psyches and souls and get to know the characters and their issues better.
What makes “Like for Likes” beautiful is the focus on relationships and the giddy, happy love that comes from starting a relationship. While unrealistic in that the situations are never truly touched by the gravity of consequence, the hopeful, happy message is what comes through. Even in a day an age of distant connections, where relationships are forged on the amorphous internet, love still manages to take root and bloom.
Part 2 written by Shamrockmom (note: I just took out some parts from her superb and long reviews)
Girls Night out at the Movies: Shamrockmom’s review of “Like for Likes”
This movie is just 2 hours of pure fun and entertainment. Okay, some thoughtful moments and a judicious serving of eye candy from Yoo Ah In doesn’t hurt either!
Yoo Ah In fully clothed–or completely covered from shoulders to kneecaps in a bathrobe–is far sexier than those ab-flashing guys doing pull-ups or whatever. It’s one thing to see him on a computer screen, or even the 50″ TV screen… but on a 20 foot movie screen it’s overload–in the best way!
It’s several moments of mental dissonance for me to watch Yoo Ah In, as he plays a Top Drama Star Roh Jin Woo who had a fling with a Top Drama Producer Jo Kyung Ah (Lee Mi Yeon) before leaving for his military service. This high powered drama producer is easily 20 years older than Yoo Ah In’s character! She’s successful, tough and fierce–just ask her assistant Na Yeon! Unfortunately, Kyung Ah hides the fact that she now has a toddler son from that one night with Jin Woo. This grates on my nerves, as does her persistent stubbornness when he asks who the father of her son is.
Jin Woo acts like a spoiled Top Star, but it’s not too overdone. Is Yoo Ah In “playing himself” in this movie? Or is it a parody of himself? Inquiring minds want to know! The Laneige CF shoot scenes (awesome PPL!) are so spot-on, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them used in a real advertisement. The scenes toward the end of the movie where Jin Woo is playing with his toddler son Jo Bom gives me goosebumps. He looks very comfortable and natural, almost joyful as they play together.
The whole deal about the movie and it’s connection to Facebook is really not important in the big scheme of things. Like everyone else in today’s world, the characters post their life events (both big and small) to social media sites, and text each other on the phone all the time. The movie does a great job on focusing on the relationships between the couples; and as a minor note, between all of them as friends.
For whatever glamorous careers the characters have, without money worries or major family issues to deal with, they all have the normal insecurities that pretty much plague everyone who is past the age of puberty. Questions like, “Should I risk my heart and love this person?” or “Am I worthy to be loved?” are timeless and universal. The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented.
There’s no new ground broken in this film or some lofty ideal exalted. Even though I think this movie could have been called “I Like Recycling”, I’m fine with it. It’s fun when a show/movie does things a little differently, and uses some creativity to make the same old plot lines seem fresh.
Complete reviews in Shamrock’s Mom blog
PS: Yoo Ah In had two special events held by Korea’s popular V-Live Broadcasting App during the film promotion; one is an interview and the other was the live fanmeeting/film screening. Reports coming soon!
GIFs by DC