I haven’t watched a lot of Korean movies. I think “The Host” was the last one, in fact, so when I pulled up “My Scary Girl” to watch during my workout, I didn’t have a lot on which to gauge my expectations.
What I found was a little gem of a movie—it’s not perfect, but it consistently surprised me which, these days, is frankly a little hard to do.
“My Scary Girl” starts out like a rom-com, but with a twist. The guy is the main character and he’s incredibly shy and even a little backward when it comes to social interaction. An English lecturer at a university, he’s out of is element when it comes to real, live people and as for women, well, it’s just painful to watch. But he realizes his life of loneliness is not a happy one, and when he spies a new girl in his building, he’s trapped between his shyness and his desire for love and happiness.
Thus, the setup.
What happens from there I won’t divulge, except to say that this is one of the blackest rom-coms I’ve ever seen. It is by turns laugh-out-loud funny, poignant, and totally puzzling. The plot is far from the standard American rom-com model, and yet I’d have to put it in that category since it is essentially a comedic boy-meets-girl-boy-wants-girl-boy-can’t have-girl-boy-gets-girl story. There’s more before, during, and after that tried-and-true scaffolding, and “My Scary Girl” goes places I truly, truly didn’t expect it to. But with each twist and turn, I found myself nodding, having seen the clues, and chiding myself for not having seen it coming.
It’s also a venue for a very competent performance by Park Yong-woo as the near-terminally shy professor. His expressions of anxiety are exquisite, and the character’s wild swings of emotion, in exploration of first love and in reaction to unfolding events, are portrayed with seamless aplomb.
In all, the movie is, as I said, a gem, albeit with a few flaws (though these flaws may be solely due to my American expectations and perceptions). Despite these, it succeeds on every level, a thing that’s very hard for a rom-com to do.