The second half takes place mostly in a hospital ward, in which we see a number of other patients and their sub-plots. I mention this firstly, because Closer to Heaven is jam packed with situational drama and tough situations that take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. This is a romance movie but deals with the topic of the disasterous effect of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Obviously, this is the type of film that will pull at your heartstrings and try to make you tear up. In fact, I don’t know if I can categorize this as a romance film as it is a much larger mode of cinema practice.
The acting was great and in a film like this, it is basically what will carry it through the end. Korean actress Ha Ji-won, who is returning to the screen after four years, plays the female lead and went on record saying, “Although I was afraid of taking this role, I could relate to my character’s desperation’. It is quite refreshing to see an actress who is brave enough to anticipate taking on a challenging role. As Jong-woo’s symptoms beginning to worsen with each passing day, Jong-woo gets easily irritable as he begins to lose control over more and more parts of his body. Even though he hurts Ji-soo’s feelings, all she wants is to stay with him and cure his disease.
Although the premise may suggest simple melodrama and tugs at the heartstrings, Park instead achieves a powerful realism, thanks in no small part to an amazing lead performance like I stated earlier. Performances aside, Park Jin Pyo’s direction also plays a significant part in the film’s impact. This film was handled with delicate care and it really shows with the slow pan shots and sharp dialogue takes. Close attention to detail is also incorporated when expectedly, things get more sentimental towards the end of the film. Closer to Heaven isn’t a movie for the manly men who browse my site, but more for the movie viewer who likes to see a heartfelt story unravel and appreciates true emotion.
All in all, Closer to Heaven is a great film. The last 20 minutes features at least 3 or 4 places where the film could logically end, but it never does. But then again, it is hard to find a good wrapping point in this film. If you see it, then you will definitely know what I mean. Unless, of course, you want just a straightforward ending that will make you reach for the kleenex box, in which case this will serve you fine. Closer to Heaven remains engaging viewing right through ’til the end and fans of this genre will be hard pressed to find another film released this year that will give you a more satisfying viewing experience.