Il Mare | Review

Released in 2000
Directed by Lee Hyun-seung
Means “the sea” in Italian
Overall Rating: A+

Main Cast:
Eun Joo – Jun Ji-hyun
Sung-hyun – Lee Jung-Jae

The time is December of 1999 and the new Millennium is just around the corner.  With Christmas and the anticipation for the new year abound, Eun Joo seems out of place being a loner during this joyous month.  To get a new start, she’s moving out of her old house called “Il Mare” by the sea and into a newly built apartment complex.  Before leaving, however, she leaves behind a Christmas card for the next tenant to remind him or her to forward any mail of hers to her new address.  Strangely, this letter doesn’t reach any “new” tenant at all but instead to the first resident, Sung-hyun, of the home back in 1997.  It seems the mailbox is like a wrinkle in time and thus allowing objects within it to be pass on to another time.  At first, both are bewildered and begin testing the other such as Eun Joo letting Sung-hyun know there’ll be a snow storm in ’98 and should be careful of a nasty flu virus going around.  When everything turns out to be true and this phenomenon a reality, their correspondence grows.  Love begins to develop between the two and they begin to plan a place to meet.  Eun Joo will meet him in the year 2000 on March 11th at 3pm at Cheju Island.  She reminds him he has 2 years to prepare so he should have no excuse.  However, when the day comes, only Eun Joo is seen at the beach of Cheju Island.  What could’ve happened to Sung-hyun during the past 2 years?

Il Mare

Il Mare

Il Mare, which means the sea, is a house built near the ocean in which both the main leads lived in.  Though the movie talks nothing of the sea, the cinemography of the movie tries to exemplify the sea in many ways.  Throughout the movie, there seem to be a haze like the fog above the ocean currents.  Everything is somewhat clear and required a second look to see the actual meaning.  This is definitely a movie that required at least a second viewing to understand.  Though a bit complicated at first, once you understand the timeline of each character everthing begins to make sense.  The movie is classified as a sci-fi and romance type.  The only sci-fi aspect of this movie is the concept of two leads living in different times and knowing of each other’s existence.  Otherwise, there is no special effects or computer images.  I find that extremely rare.  The entire story is filmed normally with various camera tricks like camera angle and side by side shots.  This is a great story with a beautiful climax that is very close to the ending.

Jun Ji-hyun as Eun Joo

Jun Ji-hyun as Eun Joo

Though it may appears as just another love story with a twist, this one is especially different because the two lovers never actually meet except for one time.  There is always a lingering feeling of loneliness throughout the movie and this apply to the two main leads as well.  Though both has a close friend of their own, they are still very much alone most of the time.  Only through their chance encounter through the letters do these two individuals ever get a chance to know of one another.  Hence, to me, the theme here is to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  When you do, strange things may occur but you’ll relish them later.  People are constantly loosing touch with one another.  Even through advent like email and chat, many still do not connect well with others.  In this movie, letters (a very old form of communication) are used and it is the anticipation for a new letter each day that gives this love story an extra boost.

Lee Jung-Jae as Sung-hyun

Lee Jung-Jae as Sung-hyun

This is a great movie that utilizes the natural setting extremely well.  A film without much enhancement at all is surprisingly much more comfortable on the eyes.  The music is also extremely good and suits the movie and its theme in a nice way.

“There’s three things a person can’t hide: coughing, povery, and love.  The harder one tries to hide them, the more they rise to the surface.”
– Eun Joo



  1. hello!
    i’ve seen this movie two times. And it will always be one of my best-loved movies. i love the simplicity of the movie. i love its plot. i love its two main characters. i love the house. i love the music. i love everything about this film.


    1. Hi Abby! I’m so glad you love this film so much. I watched it twice too. Once by myself to seep in everything, and another when I drag my sister to watch it with me because she needed to watch this awesome movie. 🙂


  2. this is my #1 greatest film ever watched. i watched it more than 10 times (call me ADDICTED 😉 ).this film is not like other films. no fights,no hero/heroine, no villain. not a comedy ,not even a tragedy. amazing!


    1. Hi Jayan, thank you for the comment! It’s one of my favorite too and for the same reason. Stick around, you might find more movies like this you’ll like.


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