The Dryly Comic My Dear Enemy at MOMA


Tapping into a palpable strain of economic anxiety, My Dear Enemy turns the money quest of two hard-luck Seoul residents into a dryly comic modern odyssey. With its opening discussion of a land deal setting the tone of financial disquiet, Lee Yoon-ki’s film then moves via fluid camera movement to the reunion of Jo Byeong-woon, an enthusiastic, slightly childish man with a knack for dreaming up business ideas that never pan out, and his ex-girlfriend, Kim Hee-su, at the racetrack. Her smart attire and luxury car notwithstanding, Hee-su is desperate for money and demands the repayment of a small debt from her former lover. Since Byeong-woon is broke, the two spend several days driving around the city, while the latter uses his charm to hit up his network of (mostly) female acquaintances for cash. Along the way, they suffer the odd humiliation, skirt around the past, and revive a degree of sympathetic regard for each other. If, on occasion, the film feels as driftless as its failed businessman protag, it gets by on the subtle interplay of its contrasting leads, a welcome store of deadpan humor and, especially, Choi Sang-ho’s gorgeous widescreen photography, which makes even a trip to an impound lot into a luminous, dusk-lit experience.