This movie has been reviewed by several other awesome reviews recently. I had written this draft way back when I watched the movie last year, but didn’t have it ready to blog before I went away… so since I’ve already shared by opinion in the comments of a few others’ posts, here’s it a little more refined 😉
Initially this was one of those “watch because my favourite actor is in it” movies, but it completely blew me away, and is now one of my favourite movies of all time. Released in 2012, A Werewolf Boy is a beautiful romantic drama.
What’s it about?
Set in the 1960s, a widowed mother (Jang Young Nam) moves her family into the countryside in hopes of helping with her oldest daughter’s lung problems. While her younger daughter Soon Ja (Kim Hyang Gi) seems to enjoy the change of scenery and her new found friends, Soon Yi (Park Bo Young), her oldest daughter, is sullen and unhappy. However, when the family discover a grown orphan (Song Joong Ki) with little social skills, they chose to take him in, and later name him Chul Soo. Chul Soo turns the house to chaos with his animal-like behaviour, until Soon Yi decides to teach him some manners, sparking an unexpected interest between the two.
This movie has some beautifully crafted characters in it, and, thankfully, the character-driven plot in the first half of the movie really allows them to be showcased. My personal favourite was probably the mother (I don’t remember if she’s actually named during the movie), who was just a very sweet, down-to-earth character. I loved how readily she accepted Chul Soo into her family’s life, prepared to change their way of life to accommodate him, and just how she takes all of Chul Soo’s peculiarities in her stride. The mother plays quite a central movie, but even the other characters with less screen time still added just that little bit of realness to the plot; Soon Ja’s abrupt rudeness to strangers she doesn’t trust, the friendliness of the country folk, and even the desperation for Soon Yi’s attention in the actions of antagonist Ji Tae (Yoo Yeon Seok), just to name a few. However, the focus of the plot is obviously Soon Yi and Chul Soo, and the development of the two characters, both in their sense of their personal growth, and the growth of the bond between them, plays out on screen perfectly. The development is naturally paced and makes sense, and there’s this real sense of subtleness to it, which means that it’s not hammered into the viewer in every scene.
Of course, these characters would be nothing without the actors that bring them to life. This movie has one of the best casts I have seen in a long time. From Jang Young Nam catching the mother’s character perfectly, right down to little Kim Hyang Gi playing the role of Soon Ja, everything is acted out just right. Song Joong Ki, is, of course, amazing. I’ve loved Joong Ki in every role I’ve seen him play so far, and just his dedication to capturing his character perfect blows my mind every single time. In A Werewolf Boy, he gets every detail of Chul Soo’s animalism perfect without losing the character’s sense of being human. As kfangurl pointed out in her review, with next-to no lines, Joong Ki still expresses all of Chul Soo’s thoughts and feelings without an issue. This is the first time I’ve seen Park Bo Young, and I was deeply impressed by her acting; she brings as much naturalness to her character as Joong Ki does. Both actors showcase so much raw emotion in all of their scenes that you can’t help but get caught up in everything.
I can drop a whole bunch of adjectives to describe the story of this movie; cute, funny, tragic, sweet, beautiful, etc.; but what I really want to highlight is just how well-told and subtle the story is. The writers don’t need to spell out everything for the viewer; they don’t need that “oh I realise we’ve fallen in love” moment or anything similar, instead the story naturally plays out on screen. I also really liked the focus is kept on Soon Yi and Chul Soo, and particularly Soon Yi’s experience of meeting and befriending Chul Soo. Although this movie provides ample opportunity to delve into philosophical questions about what it means to be human, it doesn’t, keeping to focus on the two mains and on the story at hand.
I haven’t too much to criticise this movie for. I will say, however, that I’m not convinced that the supernatural element was really needed that badly. I get why it becomes important for intensifying the conflict in the latter half of the movie, but I think it would have been interesting just to see how Chul Soo changes as a regular feral child. But then I guess I would be reviewing a movie called “A Wolf Boy” and not “A Werewolf Boy”.
The second issue I had with this movie is the ending (and by ending I literally mean the last few scenes), and this is largely because of Soon Yi’s decision at the end of the movie, which, despite discussion with other fans, I still can not accept. It might be more personal than a direct criticism against the movie, but this is the just about the only thing that I got hung up on whilst watching.
Anything else I should consider?
As mentioned, this movie actually has two endings, and I would recommend you see both the original and the director’s cut.
Story: 9/10: Subtle, unique, and well-told, the story has all kinds of emotion sewn into it, and is a pleasure to watch unfold (until it gets freaking sad, then it’s just tears all the way).
Characters: 9.5/10: I loved almost every character in this movie. There’s been a lot of thought put into all of them, and they are bought to life perfectly by their actors.
If it isn’t already obvious, I adore this movie, and I seriously recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something a little different than most romance movies. There’s a good balance of cute and sad, and the acting and characters will blow you away. Overall, I give it a strong 9/10.