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Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Salut d’Amour – late-life romance turns tear-jerking family drama

Apparently mild urban fairy tale about elderly neighbours dating has a plot twist some won’t see coming. The story is overly manipulative but the lead actors’ dignity redeems the project

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 5:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 5:54pm

The spectre of Alzheimer’s disease hovers abstrusely over this South Korean remake of the 2008 Hollywood film Lovely, Still, which starred Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn. In essence a mildly heart-warming tale about a pair of elderly people who, with the support of family and friends, find love despite their failing minds and weakening bodies, Salut d’Amour stars Park Geun-hyung, now 75, and Yoon Yeo-jeong, 68. While the story is overly manipulative, Park and Yoon bring dignity to the piece.

After the presumably single Geum-nim (Yoon) moves in next door with her recently divorced daughter (Han Ji-min), the grumpy and forgetful Sung-chil (Park) finds a new purpose in his life. And when Geum-nim unexpectedly asks him out, the pair begin an extended romance. Even the manager of the local supermarket (Cho Jin-woong), is on hand to offer the old man all the dating etiquette advice he needs, going as far as to send his teenage daughter along to assist the new couple.

To those who haven’t already guessed the tear-jerking plot twist in the final act, Salut d’Amour would appear to be an urban fairy tale in which most of the characters seem excessively nice and supportive. There are extraneous subplots – like Sung-chil’s friendship with a fellow Vietnam veteran, or his stubborn objection to the redevelopment of his neighbourhood – that barely leave an impression. This sunset romance is ultimately content to keep its focus modest – and within the family.

Salut d’Amour opens on January 14