South Korea, 2009. A few days before their wedding, veterinarian Jang Moon Ho and his fiancee Kang Sun Yeong pull over for coffee at a motorway rest stop on the way to visiting his parents in Andong, southeast of Seoul. However, when Moon Ho returns to the car, Sun Yeong has disappeared and is not reachable on her mobile phone. All he can find is a hairpin in the rest stop's toilet.Moon Ho then discovers the dark, shocking truths about her and that she wasn’t the person he thought he knew. ~~ Based on the novel "Kasha" (All She Was Worth) by Japanese writer Miyabe Miyuki.
Cast & Credits
Lee Sun Gyun, as usual played his role as Moon Ho exceptionally well. You had no doubts of the deep love and under despair he was feeling as he not only did not know where his fiancee, Seon Yeong, played by Kim Min Hee was but as he researched and followed one lead after another, the story that unfolded turns out to be pretty, pretty...I'm not going to say, you have to watch the movie.
But Min Hee as Seon Yeong was extraordinary. I believe that her love for Moon Ho was genuine; however, her actions only reflected her deep desperation.
Sad movie but very well done. Not too often that I can say: I don't condone but I truly, truly understand.
Though the movie focuses on the mystery, I was left wondering about the character development. In several scenes Lee Sun-Kyun’s character shows his frustration but the impact of these scenes felt flat for me. Their relationship as a couple is seen in a few quick scenes and so little is shown of his fiancé in the beginning it was difficult for me to connect emotionally with her disappearance. While I was curious as to why she disappeared, I didn’t feel the angst of it.
The driving force of the movie is the history and motivation of Kim Min-hee’s character. Her portrayal of the fiancé was excellent. Kim Min-hee plays her in such an emotional and multi-layered way I would have liked to have seen more. In particular, there was one flashback scene of Min-hee’s I found riveting. Instead of intense scenes like this, additional time is given to the detective work. The film is based on the Japanese crime novel, All She was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe and as an adaptation of a crime novel this makes sense. While interesting, I would have preferred to watch more than the brief and scattered scenes involving Kim Min-hee and definitely more scenes with her and Lee Sun-Kyun.
Nevertheless, what I believed to be lack of character development may have been artistic license to intensify the mystery. Though you see the fiancé, it is just enough that she becomes an enigmatic figure. Whether this is intentional or the acting abilities of Kim Min-hee were squandered is debatable.
Either way, Helpless is an intricately told mystery with a good mixture of psychological thriller and suspense. It’s a good watch and kept me guessing about the mysterious fiancé and how the story would play out.