Mini-Review: My Little Bride (2004) – A Fairy Tale About Arranged Marriage or a Pedo’s Wet Dream?

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Sang-min (Kim Rae-won) is a twenty-something college student and bit of a playboy (or douchebag depending on who you talk to). Bo-eun (Moon Geun-young) is an ordinary 15-year-old high school girl. One day, out of nowhere, Bo-eun’s grandfather announces that he hasn’t much to live and so it’s time to bring up an old promise he made to his father and his BFF. Basically, Bo-eun and Sang-min have to get married. Why? Because their Great-grandparents were war buddies and made this pact. The two kids don’t really like the idea at first, but then the old fart tricks them into agreeing. What happens next is pretty standard romantic comedy fare. 

With a premise like that I just had to check out My Little Bride (original title: 어린 신부, romanized: Eorin sinbu). The film is Kim Ho-joon‘s debut feature and he only made one other film after that. I wonder why, but at the same time, it’s not like he’s an auteur or someone with a very distinct style. This film could have been directed by anyone. It is however a beloved film among Korean drama aficionados (as the strong IMDb rating seems to suggest). For me though aside from some good moments the film falls a bit flat and feels too much like a TV show. There were some interesting ideas thrown in there, like: Can you expect loyalty and fidelity in an arranged marriage? Unfortunately, they remained largely unexplored.

It also seemed like the characters were a bit inconsistent throughout the film. Somehow they would magically “change” or their motivations would change, just to fit the plot of the story. I was also surprised that the film chose to let the female character have an affair, while the male character was obviously the more logical choice (since the film clearly makes a point that he was a womanizer). There’s also a bit of sexist (and possibly homophobic) humor going on, which felt out of place and weird. The acting was a bit heightened and cartoony, which made the film feel inauthentic and way silly. As a matter of fact the whole film was a bit childish in the way it approached adult themes such as marriage, sex and relationships.

I don’t mind a cheesy romantic comedy, in fact they’re somewhat of a soft spot of mine, but this film was just not up to par with similar genre entries. It’s not a bad film, but it’s not really a good film either. There’s a plot “twist” that felt completely dishonest and only served to make the viewer feel “better”. Oh, and can I just say how annoying the family of the two kids is? I mean come on: First they say they have to get married and then: Yeah, but no sex. Fuck you!

I can only recommend My Little Bride if you’re a seasoned K-Drama connoisseur, because otherwise I’m worried this film might ruin or turn you off to the genre. If you’re a young girl I guess you could enjoy this, but you could still be doing better.

6 out of 10

7 comments

  1. Sarah

    I would consider myself a “seasoned K-Drama connoisseur” (ish). But this one just weirded me out for some reason. Probably because, you know, she’s fifteen. Plus it just moved way too fast. It was almost like the writer knew that you knew that they were going to get together, so there was no need to put a lot of effort into getting there.

    • davideperretta

      Exactly! I think it was weird because they were trying to be cute, but the film also had some very adult themes and they didn’t know how to make the two work together.. And also, yes, she was only 15 🙂

      • Sarah

        Yep, this one was kinda all over the place. And you’re right, there were a lot of missed opportunities as far as exploring the way marriages work, especially contract marriages. I have to say, I have been pretty disappointed in Korean rom/com movies. But I continue to hold out hope 🙂

  2. Soori

    The arranged marriage isn’t something weird especially in an Asian country, however her 15 years are definitely making the story weird.

    The subject is overly used as well, in Korean Entertainment, I could easily name 2 shows in 2 seconds with the same “granpas wanted their grandchilds to marry” theme.
    I think it’s actually the other way, those that are ” seasoned K-Drama” watcher will find this film a turn off.

    • davideperretta

      Thank you for your comment Soori! I didn’t know that. Turns out I’m not as knowledgable as I thought 🙂 I appreciate your insight very much!

      What I meant to say is that if you’re already a fan of K-Drama and watch a film that’s just okay it’s not going to ruin the “sub-genre” for you, but if this is your first introduction and you dislike it maybe you won’t watch another new one as soon..

      So I take it you weren’t a fan of this film as well?

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