[Review] Miss Granny/Suspicious Girl – 수상한 그녀

MY FAIR SHIM EUN KYUNG

Oh Mal Soon (Nah Moon Hee) is a 74 year-old widow who lives with her son and his family. Controlling, insensitive and temperamental, she makes things hard for her depressed, daughter-in-law, Ae Ja (Hwang Jung Min) while incredibly proud of her university professor son, Ban Hyun Cheol (Sung Dong Il). When Ae Ja is hospitalized after collapsing due to stress, the doctors strongly advise Hyun Cheol to separate his wife from his mother.

Upon learning the news that Hyun Cheol plans to send her to a nursing home, Mal Soon wanders the streets when she comes across a mysterious photo studio that claims it can capture youth. Overlooking it as a mere marketing tagline, Mal Soon takes what she believes will be her funeral portrait. However, when she comes out of the studio, she discovers that she’s become a 20 year-old woman again. Not knowing what to do, she hides from her family and friends and decides to make the most of the situation, renaming herself as Oh Doo Ri after her favorite actress in Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn and joining her grandson’s band.

So many movies over the years have tackled the story of the older consciousness stuck in a younger body and while this movie doesn’t break the mold, what’s enjoyable about these movies is that they are character-driven plots. The strength in the movie lies in how much you like the characters and the acting.

Nah Moon Hee is a veteran actress; and although I don’t really have an issue with her acting, I can’t say that I really liked Oh Mal Soon. Mal Soon’s curmudgeon attitude was irritating and I found myself sympathizing with the daughter-in-law, Ae Ja, over her.

While I did like that we get glimpses of Mal Soon’s youthful, fighting spirit, which provided that connection with Shim Eun Kyung’s performance as the character in a younger form, I did feel that the movie deliberately wanted us to see Oh Mal Soon as a flawed character.  I get that Oh Mal Soon is who she is because of all the hardships she’s endured during her lifetime. It’s just that we don’t learn this backstory until much later.  Deliberately in the sense that the film was shoving it our faces.  It did create a lot of room for the character to redeem herself in our eyes but all I’m saying is that a little subtlety would have gone a long way.

However, I think the credit for this movie lies solely with Shim Eun Kyung and Oh Doo Ri. Shim Eun Kyung commands the screen and shines as the title character. She’s incredibly adept at balancing the character’s unseen warmth with her 4D comedic personality that it’s so easy to see why the other characters take an immediate liking to her. The other characters literally bask in her glow. I am personally looking forward to seeing her take on Nodame in the Korean remake because I don’t think that there is a young actress who can portray such odd and yet be taken seriously at the same time.

When it comes to characters basking in Doo Ri’s glow, no one basks in that glow more than Ban Ji Ha (B1A4’s Jin Young). I initially didn’t know what to make of his character as he was just another average teenager. However, he is a character you increasingly warm up to through his relationship with Doo Ri. It’s my first time seeing Jin Young act as I really didn’t know who he was before this role (I love B1A4 but I really only know two members).  He does a decent job in this movie.

Sung Dong Il takes on a much more subdued role as her son but I quite enjoy his subtle performance, especially the hospital scene at the end of the movie. So little is said but so much is understood between the characters.

Playing Han Seung Woo, a TV music producer who falls for Doo Ri’s charms, Lee Jin Wook does take a back seat supporting role in this movie. I can’t say that his performance was memorable but that really didn’t bother me. While his character was a reminder of past loves and regrets, he becomes one of the movie’s catalysts as Doo Ri realizes that she doesn’t have any real regrets. She made and continues to make the choices that she does because she loves her family.

As Doo Ri, Mal Soon does get to live out her dream of becoming a singer and although Shim Eun Kyung isn’t an experienced singer, she’s pretty good in the scenes which features her singing. Her voice is used for the OST and my favorite tracks is the cover of “나성에 가면 (When You Go to Na Seong),” originally sung by Sesaem Trio from the 70’s. I couldn’t really find an English translation so I’ve provided them below but the song has an interesting backstory. I decided to research this song as I didn’t where Na Seong was in Korea but it appears that Na Seong is in fact an outdated name for the Los Angeles, CA. Something I have never heard of before. As families emigrated to the U.S. to pursue the American Dream, one city which saw an influx of Koreans was L.A. As the song is one Oh Mal Soon’s favorites, the lyrics give another bit of insight into her character. Although circumstances prevented her from experiencing all that she wanted to, she’s happy to vicariously live through her son and grandchildren’s success.

Shim Eun Kyung – 나성에 가면 (When You Go to Na Seong)

심은경 – 나성에 가면

Ultimately, Miss Granny/Suspicious Girl is a feel-good movie from the way it’s shot, to the music and down to the characters. At the top of that list, there’s Shim Eun Kyung who is pretty damn charming and hilariously entertaining. Although the main plot is based on fantasy, I think most audiences will find the story of the family relatable. Plus, you definitely want to stay ‘til the very end for a hysterical cameo appearance from our favorite man from the stars. *wink, wink.

Rating

_____________________________________________________

The OST’s Official Music Video actually features both Shim Eun Kyung and the band, Rose Motel, who collaborated on the track, but I prefer the version above from the movie.

나성에 가면

나성에 가면 편지를 띄우세요
사랑의 이야기 담뿍 담은 편지

나성에 가면 소식을 전해줘요
하늘이 푸른지 마음이 밝은지

즐거운 날도 외로운 날도 생각해주세요
나와 둘이서 지낸 날들을 잊지 말아줘요

나성에 가면 편지를 띄우세요
함께 못 가서 정말 미안해요

나성에 가면 소식을 전해줘요
안녕 안녕 내 사랑

나성에 가면 편지를 띄우세요
꽃모자를 쓰고 사진을 찍어보내요

나성에 가면 소식을 전해줘요
예쁜 차를 타고 행복을 찾아요

당신과 함께 있다 하면은 얼마나 좋을까
어울릴 거야 어디를 가도 반짝거릴 텐데

나성에 가면 편지를 띄우세요
함께 못 가서 정말 미안해요

나성에 가면 소식을 전해줘요
안녕 안녕 내 사랑

안녕 안녕 내 사랑

When You Go To Na Seong

When you go to Na Seong, please send a letter
A letter filled with stories about love

When you go to Na Seong, please send some news
Is the sky blue, are you feeling bright?

Please think of happy days and sad days, too
Please don’t forget the days you’ve spent with me

When you go to Na Seong, please send a letter
I’m really sorry that I couldn’t go with you

When you go to Na Seong, please send some news
Goodbye, goodbye, my love

When you go to Na Seong, please send a letter
Please send a picture of you wearing a flower hat

When you go to Na Seong, please send some news
Take a pretty car and find happiness

How great would it be if I were with you?
It will suit us wherever we go, we will shine

When you go to Na Seong, please send a letter
I’m really sorry that I couldn’t go with you

When you go to Na Seong, please send some news
Goodbye, goodbye, my love

Goodbye, goodbye, my love

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