“As you told me, I wanted to find out if he was my destination. But I didn’t think it was right. So I let go of him from my heart. And I walked for a long time.”
Runtime: 1 hour, 50 min
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi
Language: Korean, English subtitles
MPAA Rating: N/A
Starring: Ji-tae Yu, Ha-Neul Kim, Ji-won Ha
Amazon Link: Ditto
SYNOPSIS: Bearing a slight resemblance to 2006’s The Lake House, and the 2000 father-son film Frequency, Ditto follows college students So-eun (Kim Ha-neul) and In (Yoo Ji-tae) as star-struck lovers who can never be. So-eun, living in 1979 South Korea, begins using a ‘damaged’ ham radio and contacts In, who unbeknownst to her lives 21 years in the future. The two realize that they attend the same school, and still not aware of the time discrepancy, begin a friendship that leads to romantic feelings. As well as a love story, the movie touches on seminal political events occurring in 1979 South Korea.
If you have heard of this film, it may remind you of The Lake House, a cheesy love story starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra. It revolves around them communicating a year apart from each other by magic mailbox realizing they’re ‘meant to be’ love for each other.
The main difference between The Lake House and Ditto is the two characters are separated by 21 years. This allows the story to be handled less like a love story between the characters and more as an exploration of how their ‘long distance’ relationship affects the two characters lives and in unexpected ways.
After connecting via ham radios one night, college students So-eun and In, find with each other a willing confidante to share their burdens. However, when they decide to meet on campus and miss each other, it is revealed that they are separated by 21 years, with So-eun in 1979 and In living in the present day, 2000. Eventually, they reconcile themselves to accept the implausible reality that has brought them together. She relates her camaraderie with her best friend Seon-mi and her pining for fellow student Dong-heui, while he talks about the unwanted attention he receives from fellow a co-ed. However, as the on-air relationship deepens, it is revealed that their ties go far deeper than ever imagined. Yes, there is a twist to the story beyond the 21 year gulf between them.
Because it is a foreign film, most American viewers will fail to understand the significance of the two timelines in “Ditto”, 1979 and 2000. For those interested, Wikipedia’s South Korean entry can provided a starting point to recent South Korean history. In Ditto, the writer places the young So-eun in the month of October of 1979, a period of major political upheaval that was triggered by the assassination of President Park on the 25th of that month. Juxtaposed is In, a member of the Internet era, who perhaps takes the relative stability of modern South Korea for granted. As the story plays out, it is made very clear in one of the film’s genuine twists that the destinies of these two are irrevocably intertwined, with the decisions made and actions taken by So-eun having significant implications for In, paralleling how South Korea’s political strife during the 1960s and 70s helped set the stage for reform during the 1980s and 90. Unfortunately, like much of the ‘lost generation’ of Koreans during the Park and the ensuing governments, So-eun ends up becoming a casualty of history, which is eloquently conveyed in the film’s sad present-day ending.
In conclusion, Ditto is a better film than The Lake House, providing a more realistic foundation to the fantasy as well adding political and social commentary to the storyline.
Note: The subtitles, necessary unless you are fluent in Korea, were lacking at times: bits of the movie were ‘lost in translation’ with background details like signs not being translated to English and no translations for what characters wrote down. In addition, some of the language is awkward and ill fitting when translated; however, this is only a mild complaint because the events in the story were portrayed beautifully.
Goozlepipe Rating:Liked It