Netflix’s South Korean romantic comedy, Lee Gye-byeok’s Sweet & Sour begins with a hepatitis patient in the hospital. The patient starts a flirty, odd relationship with Da-eun (Chae Soo-bin), a young nurse who asks to call him “Hyeok.” As the patient gets healthier over three months, their relationship becomes quite just chatter, gearing up towards a vacation trip for Christmas. And then, 30 minutes in, he looks different.
Da-eun (played by Chae Soo-bin) is working as a nurse when she first meets Jang-hyeok (Jang Ki-young) and they both fall under each other’s spell instantly. She sneaks naps on her nightlong shifts from behind the curtains that cover his bed, meanwhile, he texts his friends, who suggest he find a common interest with her to help strengthen their bond.
The premise of Sweet & Sour – while not overly original – seems attention-grabbing enough. Nonetheless, once you press play and get deeper into the story, it almost immediately begins to pull. That’s nothing to do with the actors, who all put in fine turns, but the script that casts the spell. There’s little meaningful tension in what it’s attempting to tell us – even when Da-eun and Jang-hyeok are at the peak of their issues, things pass by quietly.
The movie does an accurate job of portraying the difficulties of maintaining a long-distance relationship and the ways in which a rigorous job can hurt your personal life. There’s authenticity in certain scenarios that show how bad it's to place work before your emotions. Unfortunately, Sweet & Sour goes too far by trying to justify the casual misogyny of the main character with his heavy work pressure.
The cast can’t be blamed for the weak script. Chae Soo-bin and Jang Ki-yong deliver good performances through that we tend to feel the exhaustion of the grind that their characters go through in their day-to-day lives. Krystal Jung is funny and charming, however, her character ends up simply being a weak excuse.
Still, Sweet & Sour keeps an air of oddity, as Hyeok meets a girl, Bo-yeong (Krystal Jung), at his firm, another one of the contractual workers, forging a love-hate relationship to become successful. They spend nightly together, hammering through projects, rising the ranks. This cycle continues almost to an incessant quantity as the audience watches the daily slog of these young people’s lives. With little comedy or intrigue, the narrative stalls, waiting for Hyeuk to make a move on either lady, only for the story to progress.
Though the film follows an obvious and transparent setup, it goes for broke in its concluding five minutes, an outcome that feels both unearned and crazy in execution. Lee’s got the guts to finish a straightforward film with a convoluted ending, and also the characters appear as confused as we tend to when all of the twists are exposed. However, it makes for a lot of exciting films, pushing you to look back throughout the 100-minute film with a special lens, one in all confused curiosity instead of reinforced boredom.
Sweet & Sour is a sweet little Korean rom-com, one that’s packed with sensible acting, attention-grabbing ideas, and one almighty twist. While the ending doesn’t quite land as smoothly as one would have expected, and thus there’s enough here to make it an enjoyable watch.
Final Score – [6/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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