…stronger, faster, wiser?
A review of the Korean film 하루 (Haru / A Day).
I have slightly lost track of how many flights I have taken to Kuala Lumpur in the past 18 months. On the way to the airport I discuss with my driver that what keeps me going is consistency, reliability and (to a certain extent) predictability in all that I do.
So, I like having the same driver for my airport runs, the same terminal, the same flight. I even find comfort in the fact that British Airways in its regular lounge (that is to say, not the First Class lounge, the Spa or something even called the Concorde Room) always serves Kettle Chips in the same two flavours.
If you know what is coming you can manage your time more efficiently. I had a wander round Fortnum and Mason and Paul Smith for some Christmas gifts, since these shops are by the escalator to the lounge.
If you know what is coming you can bring the right tupperware and open the crisp packets beforehand and not have to disturb your fellow passenger with the sound of the crinkly packaging.
If you know what is coming you can do certain things to avoid a bad outcome.
Or can you?
This is the premise of the Korean film 하루 (Haru / A Day) which starts off like a Korean Groundhog Day. Being Korean, it is naturally darker and more sinister.
Kim Jun-young is a doctor and the film starts with him waking up from his sleep as his flight begins to descend into Incheon Airport. The Captain announces that the time in Seoul is 9.58am, the weather is 12 degrees Celsius and the date is Tuesday May 17. Upon landing and leaving the airport, a series of events occur and the sequence ends with him seeing his daughter Eun-jung dead on a crossing having been hit by a taxi.
Then Dr Kim wakes up with a start.
The same announcement is made and the same sequence of events plays out until he once again sees his daughter dead on a crossing having been hit by a taxi.
Then Dr Kim wakes up with a start.
The same announcement is made and the same sequence of events plays out, but this time the doctor does things a bit faster and a bit differently in order to get to his daughter before she gets hit by the taxi.
I loved Groundhog Day and could instantly see similarities as Dr Kim works harder each ‘new’ day to prevent the nightmare outcome.
Now here comes the twist.
In the taxi there is a passenger who is also killed in this accident. Her husband Min-chul is a paramedic and every day he too wakes up with a start as he replays the same scene over and over again in his ‘day’. He revisits the scene where he comes across the crashed taxi and discovers his wife in the back seat.
Min-chul makes the connection that the one thing that is different each day is that whilst everyone in the scene does exactly the same thing, the doctor is the only one who varies his actions.
Knowing that each of them are reliving the same daily experience, the two men then try to figure out a way to prevent the accident from happening and thus save the daughter and the wife.
In the next sequence they manage to prevent the accident from happening at that intersection. However, the taxi takes a different course and ends up driving into the park where Eun-jung is now waiting for her father.
As Dr Kim realises that the driver is heading towards Eun-jung he receives a phone call where the caller (we realise later it is the taxi driver) says: No matter what you do, it’s no use. She’s just about to die. She should have died three years ago.
It was at this point that I had to pause for dinner.
Dinner, on this BA flight, is always the same (I could call it Groundhog Dinner): chicken and rice or beef with potatoes, chocolate mousse and some cheese. It is reliable and keeps most passengers happy, although personally I never touch the cous-cous.
I now think that this kind of meal, if upgraded to beyond First Class level, would work very well for my Christmas Eve lunch when I have invited several friends over. Think large cubes of beef simmered long and slow with red wine, bacon, shallots, mushrooms and chestnuts. A whole boned chicken stuffed with sausagemeat, fresh thyme and cranberries. Crispy roasted potatoes. Saffron rice with pistachios and deep-fried shallot rings. Wobbly chocolate cake. A cheese platter. Mince pies, shortbread and Rococo chocolate-coated nuts. A walk up and down Primrose Hill after lunch then back for scones, fruit cake and a refreshing cup of tea.
On that contented note, I am returning to the film. I suspect things are not getting any better or happier there.