To Sir With Love meets The Road Home in this endearing tale of Yun Hong-yeon, an adolescent girl with an unrequited crush on her teacher, Mr. Kang, who in turn has a crush on Miss Eun-hee Yang, a pretty fellow teacher. It's a simple story, one that unfolds in the classrooms of a rural Korean village throughout the course of a school year. Each scene is filled with the minutae of classroom life, evenings at home around the family hearth, and life in the faculty boarding house. And as love blossoms between Mr. Kang and Miss Yang, they discover a mutual love of American pop music that provides a nostalgic backdrop.
Hong-yeon is visibly shaken when she discovers the budding romance between her dreamy teacher and a sophisticated older woman with whom she could never compete. When Mr. Kang assigns the students to keep a daily journal, Hong-yeon's becomes a private sounding board for her amorous frustrations, However, since Mr. Kang checks the journals on a weekly basis, he is fully aware of Hong-yeon's feelings for him.
Within its simple plot and schoolhouse pacing, the story has its share of twists and turns. But mostly, the film is about getting to know the characters, as if they were our own teachers and fellow students in the classroom of life. And although it contains some hammy supporting characters, the performances of the protagonists are sincere, the sets palpably dimensional, the wardrobes vibrant, and the music relevant.
Written and directed by Young-jae Lee, The Harmonium in My Memory is a cinematic valentine with an air of genuine romance that is as sweet and satisfying as a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
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