I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok.

When one hears that Park Chan-wook (Old Boy) is helming, of all things, a romantic comedy, the first thing that comes to mind is that he’s finally sold out. Coming from the director of such dark and edgy flicks such as Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, this is thankfully not your run-of-the-mill sappy romantic comedy, but a quirky and whimsical delight that lives up to Park’s unconventional style.
Young-goon (Lim Soo-jung, A Tale of Two Sisters) believes she is a cyborg and is sent to a psychiatric hospital. There she hooks up with fellow inmate and insecure kleptomaniac Il-soon (international heartthrob Rain in his movie debut) and forges a unique relationship based on the fact that both are equally batty. Rather than focus on the lovey-dovey stuff, Park wisely chooses to showcase the motley crew of raging crazies that inhabit the asylum. With unusual camera angles and surrealist bright settings, he creates a fantasy world where nothing is typical. The comic sensibilities are reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s movies The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic. Unfortunately, the rampant craziness gets rather tiresome towards the second half when you stop being amused by the tedious antics of the inmates. And being a romantic comedy and all, it’s a shame that the romantic plot itself is oblique and insipid.
While Lim’s lack of beauty is used to great effect as a deranged harpy, Rain acquits himself ably in the unchallenging role of acting barmy with his exaggerated facial expressions, but doesn’t fare as well in subtler moments and is unconvincing in his growing affection for his lady love.
Overall, don’t expect a cinematic masterpiece or a passionate tear-jerker, but an idiosyncratic effort that doesn’t toe the line, as is typical of the rest of Park’s oeuvres.
You’ll Dig I’m A Cyborg, But That’s Ok If You Dig: Mental asylum flicks like Girl, Interrupted, eccentric comedies like The Royal Tenenbaums…or Rain’s first live concert DVD.