Rating: 4 out of 5.

What do you get when you take the quirkiness of Wes Anderson and blend it with Korean slapstick humor and a dash of love triangle? The answer comes courtesy of director Lee Won-suk and writer Park Jeong-ye collaboration, Killing Romance! Bursting with originality and fart jokes, this unconventional comedy lets loose a chaotic ostrich of quirky fun. The film is hilariously narrated in English, thanks to an omniscient Debbie Reed presenting Killing Romance as a glamorous storybook. In this “very special tale from the far far east,” in an exaggerated world not unlike our own, an unlikely duo team up to help escape a dangerous marriage.

Our three central characters—Yeo-rae (Lee Ha-nee), Jonathan Na (Lee Sun-kyun), and Beom-Woo (Gong Myoung)—are all of equal value for the story that unfolds in their own unique ways. Yeo-rae, who rose to popularity after consuming 1.2 liters of junk-beverage LallaTen, quickly became a world-famous actress and influencer. Though she had a rabid fanbase, Yeo-rae’s sci-fi film Stranger, the most expensive movie ever made, bombed horribly and made Yeo-rae into a laughing stock. Now, to escape the limelight, Yeo-rae makes a spontaneous decision to vacation deep in the South Pacific at picturesque Qualla Island. Here, she meets handsome environmentalist/animal rights activist/global real estate developer, Jonathan Na. Were Killing Romance any other generic rom-com, Yeo-rae and Jonathan Na would spend the duration wooing one another.

Lucky for us, Killing Romance is simply not that kind of movie. Their whirlwind romance happens in a manner of minutes, culminating in a marriage proposal. Seven years later, the couple flies back to Korea. Much seems to have changed in the interim—most notable is Jonathan Na, now completely self-obsessed. He attempts to appease Yeo-rae with garish homemade ostrich leather bags while robbing her of any real opportunities. Their relationship seems to be one of circumstance rather than any real love connection, in spite of the grand gesture of silly songs.

Giant murals of Jonathan adorn their massive mansion home in Korea, and he constantly demeans Yeo-rae. Young teen Beom-Woo, former member of a Yeo-rae Fan Club, starts spying on his neighbors in their mansion. Eventually, Beom-Woo and Yeo-rae meet distantly on her balcony. He returns sporting endorsed merchandise, quoting Yeo-rae’s entire filmography. As it becomes increasingly apparent that Jonathan Na will never allow her to come out from under his thumb for a much-needed comeback, Yeo-rae and Beom-Woo hatch a scheme to take Jonathan out of the picture permanently. As Yeo-rae and Beom-Woo try to decide between murder by brick, poison, car accident, or inferno room, Jonathan Na grows nastier by the second.

Director Lee Won-suk easily injects a stylish charm that will appeal to all types of film lovers. Killing Romance morphs into a hybrid of many different genres, complete with decidedly Korean humor and ridiculous musical numbers as wacky as they are memorable. Emulating Anderson’s style is no easy feat, but by doubling down on characterization and punchy narration, Killing Romance earns a place in the Korean comedy cinema hall of fame.

Killing Romance screened at 2023’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

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