Anyone who’s ever spent a moderate amount of time with me is very, very aware of my love for sad movies. As a high school senior, I waste more than enough of my life stressing about homework and college, so, oddly enough, it’s quite relaxing to spend a few hours crying about someone else’s problems – the worse the better.
For months, with this in mind, one of my friends has been trying to convince me to watch A Moment to Remember, a 2004 South Korean romantic drama that is widely claimed by its viewers (now including yours truly!) to be incredibly, for lack of a better word, sad. And, oh, does that ever hold true.
The plot of the film is focused around the lives and relationship of Kim Su-Jin, a relatable, hopelessly romantic fashion designer, and Choi Chul-Su, a rough, ill-tempered carpenter. The pair meet early on, when Su-Jin steals Chul-Su’s Dr. Pepper after being stood up at the train station by her ex-lover (don’t worry; they fill in the details.) Thus occurs a series of clever coincidences, and they end up falling in love and marrying. Now that I think about it, the first half of the movie made me cry almost as much as the final half; even with the heartache at a bare minimum, it was cute enough to compel quite a few tears.
I beg you, though, not to be fooled by the early “happy ending” like I was; this is no vapid, blush-worthy rom-com. I went through almost an entire box of tissues watching this movie.
Around halfway through, after a short but blissful post-marriage period, Su-Jin, at a mere 27, is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Throughout the rest of the movie, everything built up in the first half essentially falls apart, as does your heart. While Su-Jin is forced to come to terms with losing her memories, her husband is faced with the prospect of staying by her side even when she no longer can remember who he is. And, man, if it isn’t absolutely heart-shattering.
In terms of viewership, A Moment to Remember was a smash hit – upon its release in 2004, it was at the top of the Korean box office for two weeks straight, securing a spot as the fifth highest grossing film of the year. Its streak of success continued into 2005, when it became the 19th highest grossing film of the year in Japan and won the Grand Bell Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, breaking multiple box office and critical reception records of South Korean films shown there.
If you’re anything like me, A Moment to Remember is all you want and more; though it is, at times, charming and comical, it is also astoundingly, relentlessly heart-breaking. It portrays, in essence, what everyone likes to think true love is all about: loyalty and endurance even in times of deep, deep sorrow. I can’t recommend it enough.