What a gem, My Mother, the Mermaid. A beautiful love story, breathtaking cinematography, and a lovely, lovely soundtrack. But what stands out above all in this 2004 movie is the acting.
Jeon Do-yeon is fantastic here in a dual role playing a mother (Yeon-soon) and her daughter (Na-yeong). The two look nothing like each other and Jeon Do-yeon’s transformation from Yeon-soon to Na-yeong is nothing short of astonishing. (From Yeon-soon to Na-yeong? Mother to daughter? Yes, because there’s magic in this movie, both in the watching and in the unraveling of events, as we move from present back to the past.) Go Doo Shim is the older Yeon-soon and her acting is riveting as usual. Rounding up the leads is my soft spot Park Hae-il, in my favorite Park Hae-il role. I dare you to find a more attractive postman in a kmovie – sweeter, gentler, with a more infectious smile.
Alas, just as our postman, Kim Jin-kuk, seems almost too perfect to be true, so my favorite half of the movie increasingly begins to resemble the stuff of dreams, something that Na-yeong (and I) made up. I can’t reconcile it with the other half – so stark, so disparate, so discomfiting.