Old Flames Reunite in ‘Irreversible’

Irreversible

A father and his daughter are walking. The daughter beckons her father to walk faster, the father tells her to slow down. She might fall, he says. 

“Woo Jihoon,” a voice calls out. The father looks up and his smile falls from his face. They stand face to face from a distance.

Thus starts ‘Irreversible’ (Korean Title: ‘That Name’). Shown at the Seoul Pride Festival 2017, this South Korean short film directed by Park Minji tackles nostalgia for an old flame that appears in one’s present life.

 If you want to know more, keep on reading. Fair warning though, spoilers up ahead!

Irreversible

Moments after their surprise meeting, the other man, Taeil, sits at the dining table with Jihoon and the rest of his family. Sohee, the kid immediately takes a liking to Taeil, even showing off the cute pigtails that Uncle Taeil did for her.

Taeil apologizes for the unplanned reunion, it has been 10 years after all. Jihoon corrects him that it has only been 8, actually. His wife asks him if they are both alumni and Taeil confirms that they are. Taeil adds that they were actually from different programs but happened to befriend each other. His wife asks him how Jihoon was in college because he has been pretty secretive about his past. Jihoon counters that he was a normal guy at university. Furthermore, the past is in the past, he says. Taeil shuts him down and is quick to shower him with praise. He says Jihoon was actually smart and athletic. He was also popular with girls. Jihoon seems to disagree but he says yes, anyway. 

Taeil seems to know him pretty intimately. Taeil says Jihoon has trouble waking up in the mornings that he had to wake him up. Jihoon’s wife picks up on it and asks if they lived together. They did, Taeil confirms. He adds that it was the best time ever. His wife asks if they were best friends and Sohee adds that her daddy is a best friend. Jihoon awkwardly smiles and says they are. 

Taeil then asks who’s Sohee’s best friend. Sohee answers Seunghyun is her best friend and she will marry him. Ha! Kid, you’re thinking way ahead. 

Irreversible

Meanwhile, Jihoon excuses himself to the bathroom. Away from his family and Taeil, Jihoon seems unnerved. He seems unsettled by Taeil’s unexpected visit as he washes his face and studies himself in the mirror.

When he comes back to join the others, it is to Taeil showering the wife with praises like how did Jihoon land such a pretty woman like her when he had no interest in women whatsoever. Taeil says he’s jealous of her because she’s beautiful and cooks well. His wife then asks if Taeil is already married, which Taeil denies. He’s so handsome, how could he not have a girlfriend, the wife asks. Taeil awkwardly says that he actually has a lover and that he is, in fact, engaged. Marriage? Girlfriend? Jihoon seems shocked and upset at this new information. 

After dinner, Taeil says goodbye but not without a hug from Sohee. Jihoon lingers in the doorway though, eyes still trained on the door. His wife notices it though, and hands him his jacket. Jihoon runs after Taeil.

Outside, Taeil and Jihoon talk about his wife. Taeil says she seems like a kind person. Time sure does fly fast, he says, seeing as Jihoon already got married and has a child. A beat passes. Jihoon asks for the first time how has he been. Taeil says he’s doing well. And then he drops the bomb. He’s getting married on Saturday. Taeil says that he’s marrying a good person. Jihoon is shocked as Taeil hands him a wedding invitation. Jihoon opens it and sees the name of the person he’s marrying. It is a guy’s name. Taeil beckons him to go back because his wife must be waiting for him but Jihoon makes no move. Taeil then announces that he is going first. Before leaving, though, he turns to Jihoon and wishes him the best. Jihoon is left alone, clutching the invitation until he hears his name being called and a memory filters through.

“Woo Jihoon,” a familiar and loving voice called out. It is Taeil, several years younger, still wet behind the ears. “I like you,” he said shyly, and Jihoon smiled back. It is a vignette of when they were still together, their cute moments of yesteryear. Taeil kissed Jihoon and then proceeded to hide his face under his forearms. Taeil laid his head on Jihoon’s lap as they converse on the tiniest things. They drone on and on. 

Writer’s thoughts:

The power of short films relies on their short running time and their ability to tackle and challenge different ideas and send messages beyond what was shown on the screen. ‘Irreversible’ perfectly shows that in making the viewers wonder, what could have caused their breakup. What could have caused Jihoon to marry a woman and have a child? Perhaps, both men were torn apart due to familial duties or societal expectations, we will never know. Nevertheless, we see just how much they meant to each other at one point in their lives as evidenced by Jihoon’s longing stares at Taeil, and Taeil making it a point to visit Jihoon and inform him of his wedding.

‘Irreversible’ is short and sweet and full of nostalgia. It will definitely have viewers looking back at their old romances, perhaps with longing, and it will have you wondering about endless possibilities, the if-onlys, and the what-could-have-beens. 

Watch ‘Irreversible’ on GagaOOLala.

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