South Korean flick Me and Me is a tough movie to categorize. IMDb describes it as both a mystery and a drama but, in reality, Jin-young Jung’s film has elements of body swap comedy, paranormal thriller, paranoid cult movie, and even slapstick. It’s a puzzling film, but not without its pleasures, not least of which are the stunning cinematography, which makes small-town life look just as idyllic as big city living, and the performances, which are sweetly naturalistic.
Our hero, ostensibly, is Su-hyeok (Soo-bin Bae), a charming young man who’s just escaped Seoul with his wife, Yi-yeong (Su-yeon Cha), against the protestations of their friends to build a quiet life in the country, where he can teach round-cheeked school-kids math and she can learn how to knit. As the narrow-minded, jealous townsfolk discover through their own nosiness, however, Yi-yeong suffers from a bizarre affliction that leaves her “possessed” by other people at night-time.
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Rather than enjoying her spot-on impressions of famous comedians and, er, Su-hyeok’s dead mother, they decide she has to be locked up so as not to cause any disruption to the town. At first, her dutiful husband sleeps next to her, the couple adorably holding hands through the bars, but before too long Su-hyeok decides to simply be locked up with her, so they can sleep together as normal. It seems like a reasonable solution, even if it’s a bit of an overreaction, but when tragedy strikes, the town is left reeling.
That’s pretty much all the setup Me and Me offers before switching gears rather abruptly from a sort of paranormal thriller (Su-hyeok’s sickness is initially presented as though her husband is hallucinating ghostly visions) into an enjoyably offbeat police procedural, when the dashing Hae-kyun (Hae-Kyun Jung) shows up to figure out who’s to blame for the crime (“were they perverted in any way?” he inquires) and finds himself side-lined at every juncture by townsfolk looking to serve him food or strange mind-altering beverages.
The film then switches gears again into a kind of body swap comedy, only without the usual payoff the Hollywood variety provides, leading it to feel not just darker but less satisfying than the typical variety. It’s pretty light on its feet, but there’s a sense that Jin-young Jung is mistaking vagueness for intrigue. As the thing continues on, getting more convoluted and confusing, one starts to wonder what the point of it all is, or where it’s even going. Thankfully, it’s a mostly pleasant journey, but the payoff is totally lacking.
At its heart, Me and Me is a dark, body swap crime caper with plenty to say about provincialism and the way both sides of the proverbial coin judge each other unnecessarily. The performances are universally great and there are plenty of genuine laughs, too, along the way. Weirdly, however, this feels more like an anthology than a cohesive whole. By the end, you may be left wondering what the point was, rather than trying to figure out what’s actually going on underneath it all, which was clearly the intention.
WICKED RATING: 7/10