‘My Ahjussi’: Parallels with the Movie ‘Lost in Translation’

By @Sharine Phinisia from Soompi

I once drew a comparison with this drama to 2003 movie Lost in Translation, and someone put it in much better words than I am. The link is here, just in case.

 

 

Highlighted part:

The two have an easy, funny rapport. They seem to recognize something in one another, like kindred spirits.
Jian and her ajusshi (albeit uncomfortably at first) always throw cynical jokes to one another and enjoys each other company (she breaks a smile when DH’s choking).

Dong Hoon and Ji An share smiles over beer while Kwang Il looks on

Bob begins the film as a sad sack, until Charlotte draws out his youthful charisma.
I have to admit that if Jian is a ferocious, wounded kitty, DH impress me as a sad, joyless blob fish. The story starts moving when Jian challenging his stance in life and finally roused him from his slumber.

As their relationship deepens, the movie never quite goes where we expect.

Bob and Charlotte confide in one another, essentially falling in love.
Like how the director define ‘my’ in ‘My Mister’ as an affectionate term that doesn’t have to be perceived as a romantic kind, I assume that they fall in love with each other’s existence.

But they never cross the line into physical affair.
A post here once said that what if DH decides to go YOLO and sleep with Jian. Well, as much as I crave that kind of material, their issues goes deep beyond physical needs… they were both damaged, emotionally. And confiding in each other gives something that they’ve never felt before.

Although we do see them struggling to figure out how physical love fits into their connection.
Which made up all the funny and bittersweet moments: when Jian bought him slippers, getting mad at DH for not wearing the slippers, profess her adoration clearly (“I wait for you because I miss you”), DH responded awkwardly, getting riled up for having the slippers sacked away, demand her to buy another pair…

‘Buy me slippers.’ / I want you to stay in my life.
‘I waited because I missed you.’

These moments are sweet as they are confusing… They don’t exactly know where they are now (it is still unclear to me, even that blatant confession still giving me doubts, romantic kind or…?) So the audiences are the one to decide. 

In a sense, they find meaning and forge their relationship in absence, not excess. They find joy in spontaneity, like a race across traffic, an off-key karaoke performance, or an unexpected ikebana ceremony. These moments can’t be planned, can’t be replicated, and – most importantly – can’t be bought.
In the company (where he’s being belittled everyday as a manager by his superiors, and how you have to bluff your way to the top), DH is certainly not the gawking kind, and after scenes with his friends and family, he can finally enjoy a company with someone who didn’t demand his explanation, who enjoys silence as much as he did. They both do have a penchant for being spontaneous (Jian for running to DH, DH for confronting Kwang Il and offering to pay her debt) especially when it’s for someone who means a lot to them.

Ji An, worried after hearing Dong Hoon’s heavy breaths, runs over to him.
Dong Hoon wants to pay Ji An’s debt.

But at each major turn, the story withholds key romantic beats.
YES sir, the story indeed is loaded with exploding amount of romantic beats, even when they are not speaking at all!

IMG_20180423_200942.jpg

Hasil gambar untuk lost in translation

*sigh*…

 

A response from @akhenaten:

Thanks for your wonderful comparison of MA with LiT.  :)

It’s true what you said, especially the part italicized above. Ji An just said what she felt, but we’re all unsure as to the full context of her words because even she is probably as confused, especially since she’s never had anyone like Dong Hoon in her life before and she’s never felt that way for anyone before.  She doesn’t have anything to compare it against so she can’t determine if her feelings for him are fraternal or romantic.  Dong Hoon, on the other hand, would have a basis for comparison because he’s married and I would assume was once in love with Yoon Hee.  However, I think what he feels for Ji An is vastly different from his feelings for his wife, yet it’s more intense, which confuses and scares him.

To me, “My Ahjussi” is how you do an age-gap drama properly.  It really gives me the novel feels.  I think someone mentioned Jane Eyre and I so agree.  Same tension between the leads.  Also makes me think of another Scarlett Johansson film that came out the same year as her “Lost In Translation” one.  It was called “Girl With A Pearl Earring” and based on the novel of the same name. It’s a fictional account of the connection that formed between the artist Johannes Vermeer and his maid, Griet, which gave birth to one of his most celebrated works.  In the story, Vermeer was in his forties while Griet was sixteen.  They never had a romantic or even sexual relationship but their interactions were so charged because they had this deep connection that went beyond words.  It didn’t end happily though, because of, well, real life and the fact that their bond was beyond the understanding of the people around them.  If you have the time and the inclination, go watch it or better yet, read the novel.  It will seem like you’re looking at another version of Dong Hoon and Ji An. :)

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