"Calla seems to be a project that had a great script, but was pitched incorrectly."
AKA: Chara, Kala, Reborn
Director: Song Hae-Seong
Producer: Choi Seong-Hyeok, Kim Ho-Hyeon
Cast: Song Seung-Heon, Kim Hee-Seon, Kim Hyeon-Ju, Choi Cheol-Ho
Running Time: 100 min.
Plot: A man receives flowers every day and wants to find out who's sending them. He goes to a nearby flower shop to look for his admirer, instantly falling in love with the shopkeeper. But when she dies, he gets a unique chance to go back and change things.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
MLINDBER'S REVIEW: Watching the first part of Calla, it is amazing how amateurish and corny the opening scenes are. Shot almost completely in slow motion, with police officers surrounding a hostage situation, and completely over the top melodramatic music moving into freeze frames; Calla has it all. By the time the real narrative begins, it is hard to take the movie seriously after it basically screams for attention through cheap effects and dramatic situations. However, as the movie goes on, things begin to fall into place, and the film becomes something not only enjoyable, but extremely well made. It is as if the first part of the movie was made just to throw off viewers and force them to think something else of the movie. In fact, there are many such things in the film, which by the time it is over, shows the events that occur three times.
The gimmick of Calla is the main protagonist, Kim Sun-woo (Song Seung-heon from Make it Big), who witnesses the murder of the girl he is in love with, mopes around for three years, and then gets a chance to revisit the events through a time traveling elevator. Pitched like this, the movie seems destined for failure. Eventually, the movie takes on a different role, moving from revenge to unrequited love to missed opportunities. The movie leads viewers in so many different directions it is at times hard to understand exactly what the movie is about. At points, Sun-woo is chasing after Ji-hee, or he is searching for her killer, or even just letting his chances slip away through non-action and exposition. In the end, the film completely recovers from its sometimes unclear narrative and becomes pretty compelling.
Calla seems to be a project that had a great script, but was pitched incorrectly. The script itself is completely solid, especially when one looks at the film afterwards. Like other Korean melodramas, it takes stereotypical elements, such as a lonely guy who falls in love with the girl in the flower shop, and completely changes the audience's perception of these elements. Events even occur early on in the movie that play differently by the time the film shows them again. The directing, on the other hand, is much more confusing. It is at times fairly good, with nothing incredibly special, but at times, it is almost laughable. No insult to John Woo but freeze frames are just about the worst idea anybody has ever come up with.
The characters in the film only become compelling once they are thrown out of their intended nature. Having the main character travel through time and not turn the film into an action fest or a weepy love-from-afar sort of ordeal is really where all the appeal lies. The film is not about time traveling, nor is it about a guy falling in love with a flower shop girl. It is about all the misunderstandings and small things in life that ultimately add up to one's fate.
MLINDBER'S RATING: 7/10