Life is Cool (그녀는 예뻤다)
August 14, 2010
Not too long ago, I made a comment that the number of good Korean animations was so scarce, I could count the number with my one hand. So it was a strangely fateful turn of events for me then to, by sheer chance, stumble across an obscure Korean animated film titled Life is Cool, because it was one of the most witty, intelligent and mature animation I had the pleasure of watching. There were still hidden gems yet to be found in Korean animation industry, and this blatantly obvious realisation made me feel so foolish for making such a baseless statement.
Life is Cool is a completely rotoscoped film inspired by Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, yet possessing a distinctly unique look and feel that distinguishes itself. Its visual style is played in lower key and lacks the wild deformity of Waking Life, but its sketchy scenes still vibrate and pulsate in such inexplicable sensations, the overall tone of watching the film is almost like traversing that hypnotic chasm between real and surreal. Rotoscoping was done over live-action shots of characters played by highly recognised and talented Korean actors, so there are subtle nuances in what they say and do that are difficult to capture with conventional animation. The dialogues and characters’ movements flow so naturally, and its writing so witty and intelligent, there is not a moment that feels mundane in this movie.
At its core, the relationship between the three best friends and their common romantic interest is what keeps us engaged throughout the movie. Their interactions always feel genuine and down to earth because each characters are so carefully crafted with substantial background story and delicate characterisation, which is quite unlike (fortunately) many Korean dramas where ridiculous interactions are dictated by coincidents and amnesia/other plot devices. Ultimately, Life is Cool is a wonderfully human and mature story of three grumpy middle-aged Koreans finding more cool way to live a life, through their meaningful interaction with one woman, and each other. Personally I would have liked more tension and the events to unfold in more dramatic fashion, but I suppose that would completely override the general atmosphere and theme of the movie.
You might relate to the story more if you are a middle-aged man looking for a woman but I am sure most young audience will still get plenty out of the film like I did. Life can be so cool, but sometimes we get chained down by our narrow and ideal visions, never satisfied with what we have and always blind to plenty of opportunities lying before us. Sounds like Tatami Galaxy right? Below is the theme song for the movie, Life is Cool by Sweetbox. Enjoy, and stay cool.
*It is pity that the only subbed version of the movie doesn’t offer a translation that does justice to the nuances that can be found in wonderfully crafted dialogue.