The holidays may be over, but A Year-End Medley is sure to bring back the Christmas spirit with a light-hearted, varied take on overcoming difficulties in relationships with others and oneself. The film follows multiple characters played by a star-studded cast–including Lee Dong-wook, Kang Ha-neul, Han Ji-min, and Yoona–as their stories become intertwined at a hotel called Emross.
Although Medley is marketed as a romantic comedy, not all the stories are about romantic love. We get a look into family, friendships, and even one’s own self-worth. Like most feel-good movies, each story centers on a character with an obstacle that they need to overcome before they can reach their happy ending. For instance, Jae-yong (Kang Ha-neul) is dealing with depression, So-jin (Han Ji-min) realizes she waited too long to confess her love, and Catherine (Lee Hye-young) is trying to rekindle a former love. Having so many storylines can get confusing and stories can get rushed, but Medley manages to tie everything in a nice bow without trivializing any of the characters’ experiences.
Note: The next paragraph contains a brief mention of suicide. Readers are advised to proceed with caution if this is a sensitive topic for them.
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Some of the stories that stand out are not about romantic love. Jae-yong’s story, for instance, is more about empathy rather than who he ends up with. His story is the most prominent, because it tackles a dark topic like suicide in a comedic matter. After failing his civic test and getting dumped by his girlfriend, he decides to end his life after a nice stay at the hotel. In the beginning, he is only met by uncompassionate individuals who do little to deter him from his decision. However, once he gets to the hotel, the entire team goes out of their way to make him love life again. It adds a layer to the other characters as well, by showing their empathetic sides with their efforts to save his life rather than casting him away.
The film also tackles love at all ages, with a central theme of seizing the moment. It portrays a teenager who hesitates to confess to his crush, a hotelier manager who waited too long to confess, and a mother who is trying to rekindle her first love. The moral of their stories is fairly straightforward: take a chance when you can, before it is too late. But the film is also realistic about this message: it may work out, but sometimes, it may not.
In the case of So-jin, her love story does not pan out as she planned. She realizes that her best friend is truly in love, and she simply waited too long to take her shot. However, she is able to accept that loss and continues to have a wonderful friendship. It is nice that the film included a love that did not take off, because it shows that it is not the end of the world. Additionally, due to her bravery, she is able to influence her younger brother to take the chance before it is too late.
Unfortunately, due to there being so many stories, we do not get a chance to see fully rounded characters. In the case of Yong-jin (Lee Dong-wook), who has an unusual trauma with odd numbers, Medley does little to elaborate on the issue. His love interest, Lee Young (Won Jin-ah), is an aspiring dancer who puts her work at the hotel over her passion. We also do not get to learn about how she ended up that way. However, like all the stories, we do get a resolution to their problems, even it is overly simplified.
Like in all feel-good movies, there have to be happy endings. The conclusions all come together fairly nicely at a New Year’s Eve wedding. There are no hard feelings, and essentially all the villains get their comeuppance. However, the focus of the film is not to get any revenge, but for the main characters to be truly happy. This is not an overly deep film, and it does not delve into any characters’ backgrounds. However, A Year-End Medley is full of holiday joy and easy resolutions. If you are looking for a light and heartfelt story, then this film would be an enjoyable experience.
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