A workplace drama set in the print entertainment news world starring Park Bo-Young/박보영,  Jung Jae-Young/정재영, Bae Sung-Woo/ 배성우, and Jin Kyung/진경K-Reviews: You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네 (2015)

Have you’ve been lied to by a movie trailer?

Introduction
Hello. This is Professor AKIA asking you a serious question. Have you’ve been tricked by a movie trailer to go see it? I’m not talking about a movie trailer pretending as if the movie was good. That is just a trailer’s job. I mean when the trailer bait and switches you by presenting a movie to be totally different from what it actually is. The promotion for the movie “You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네” (2015) does this. Here is my trailer talk episode about this movie.


From this trailer, you would expect that this movie is going to be a wacky comedy. “You Call It Passion” (2015) is definitely not that! I would even be hesitant to label it as a “Dramady” because the movie is not even that humorous for most of its screen time. So, going into the movie, it was somewhat jarring to adjust my preconceptions about the movie initially. I would say it took about 10 minutes to fully adjust to what the movie was. The fact that the first section of the movie is rather rough and abrasive didn’t help.

So what is “You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네”?

It is part workplace drama and part “Journalism is still relevant” message movie. Yes, I said it. It is a movie waving the “Journalism” flag. Considering this, the creative choices made in this movie are weird starting with the casting of Park Bo-Young/박보영 as the heroine and setting the movie at an entertainment news division of a failing print newspaper. I’ll go over these elements in detail later. But first, the important stuff!


Titles
I like to talk about how a Korean movie title gets converted into an English one. Most of the time, it is totally a mess. In case of “You Call It Passion” (2015), the English title is more bizarre and nonsensical. I would bet a dollar that the persons in charge had terrible English skills. Even though Koreans spends billions in English education, what you get in return is lack luster.

The title of “You Call It Passion” (2015) has the connotation of someone chastising someone else about the lack of passion.

“You call that passion?”

The actual Korean title can be roughly translated into “Fuck passion!” I did say it was rough. There is a strong sarcastic tone to the original Korean title that represents the Heroine’s attitude early on in the movie. It is basically going for the same feel as the movie title “Stick It” (2006). That movie was a teen gymnastics movie starring Missy Peregrym and Jeff Bridges.

“Stick It” (2006). 
Rebellion on the high bar!

Considering this, the English title just comes off as odd. Now let’s talk about plot.


The Plot
A group of newly appointed interns at a 3rd rate print newspaper get assigned to their departments. Our heroine, who is just out of college, gets assigned to the entertainment news division led be a mad dog of an editor. He wants juicy scoops as he is basically in the gossip game but still wants the writing done well with all the Is dotted and Ts crossed. Considering he really has no life and tons of stress, he tends to abuse his subordinates even though he is weighted down with the responsible for them and their livelihood in the age of newspapers going down the toilet.


A pile of cheap landline Phones thrown at people!

As a newbie to this world of chasing after celebrities and digging through their garbage, our heroine has to find a way to survive not only the industry but also her boss, the mad dog. She also needs to live her life, pay her bills, and play house with her boyfriend. It is basically a slice of life at the workplace type of story. And yes, there is an overall scheme too trying to tie everything together.   Where would the heroine place her soap box after all?

I mean Park Bo-Young is short!

The Point
The most accurate description of “You Call It Passion” (2015) I could give is that it is somewhat of a “work place slice of life” story. Korean dramas such “Misaeng” (2015) may give you some indication of what kind of story this movie is trying to tell. Both have young newcomers as protagonists come into a new working environment and struggle to find a place. Both populate these work places with varied characters also trying to do their best at their jobs. The emphasis on the “Job” is at the core of the story in both the movie and the drama.

Yim Siwan made “Misaeng” (2015) unbearable for me!
Park Bo-Young is better… somewhat.

In many ways, “You Call It Passion” (2015) feels like 16 episode Korean drama compressed into a 106 minute movie. Since most 16 episode Korean dramas have basically about 3 to 5 hours’ worth of plot in them anyway with the rest padded out by filler, this is not a bad idea. However, fragments of the compression are felt lingering in “You Call It Passion” (2015) and makes the movie feel like an awkward joining of 3 types of stories.


In the first act of the movie, the movie comes off as something of a “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) without the fashion. It is the story of an outsider coming into a new job without serious dedication and floundering about under iron fist of an inconsiderate and demanding boss. The Korean title of this movie can be viewed in this vein.


“Andy, be serious. You are not trying. You are whining …You have no idea how many legends have walked these halls. And what's worse, you don't care. Because this place, where so many people would die to work you only deign to work. And you want to know why she doesn't kiss you on the forehead and give you a gold star on your homework at the end of the day. Wake up, sweetheart.”    ---Quote from “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)

After all, the lighting in the movie is so saturated with light like it was set in either a beauty parlor or an Apple store.

No lens flare though…
Just a joke. This isn’t a J.J. Abrams movie.



In the second act, “You Call It Passion” (2015) becomes more of a focused “slice of life” type of story. Saying focused to describe a “slice of life” is a bit weird I know. Our heroine has somewhat acclimated to her surroundings at this point and we get to see the other characters and how they are coping with the changing landscape of the news game. While our heroine is still the entry point for the audience into the story, the story is not all about her.

Other than the character is played by Park Bo-Young, the character is not interesting

But, to be fair, she doesn’t get much development.


The third act is where the story turns into more of your standard scoop based reporter thriller where the heroine waves the now very familiar “Journalism is awesome” flag in front of helpless odds because of “Journalism.” You have seen these movies. The point to this type of story is to make journalism is still relevant by making the reporter the hero or in this movie’s case the heroine of the story. It is relevance by proxy! But does “You Call It Passion” work in this vein..?

This type of sudden streamlining of the focus can be jarring when it happens almost at the tail end of a movie. To the credit of this movie, the fact that the case was going to be a “thing” is foreshadowed throughout the movie.  


Mediocre at all, Master of none
For a modern movie, 106 minute is not a long run time especially when the movie is not focused and has a lot of material to cover. This is the case for “You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네” (2015). Many of the elements of this movie never get properly developed after being introduced. With the first act and the whole getting used to the job plotline, our heroine just stumbles along as you expect someone with no experience and no proper training when put in the deep end would act like. This is then wrapped up rather hastily through coincidence and plot convenience. 

Plot convenience!

With the second act, you get to see bits and pieces of the other characters as the movie is trying to go for an ensemble slice of life story at that moment. And this part is the most enjoyable portion of the movie. It is interesting to get glimpse into the inner working of the entertainment gossip world and how people live in that world. However, the peripheral characters are never given enough time to develop beyond the superficial. Even after watching the movie, I only remember two of the peripheral characters if any.

This is part because there is not enough time and part because the movie has characters that seem to be leftovers from previous drafts of the story. The movie has a subplot about the batch of interns that came in with our heroine who were assigned to different departments. Every so often, the group tends to gather to bitch about their jobs. This subplot has no purpose in the overall narrative and is awkwardly handled but takes up valuable time. While there is a romantic relationship in the movie, it is one of those vestigial subplots.


The most important relationship in the movie is between our heroine and her mad dog of a boss. While it starts out as an “Andrea Sachs and Miranda Priestly” of “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) relationship, the relationship becomes less arm’s length as her boss becomes more dependent on the heroine. It ends up being somewhat of a mentor/mentee relationship. It reminded me of another “Journalism is Great” movie called “Up Close and Personal” (1996) starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. If anyone actually remembers that movie, they would have a question looming over their minds.

No, Park Bo-Young and Jung Jae-Young’s characters do not hook up!


Unlike “Up Close and Personal” (1996) where the two leads become a couple in addition to becoming mentor and mentee, “You Call It Passion” (2015) doesn’t have a vast age difference couple. And I’m somewhat conflicted on this. On one hand, it would be creepy. On the other, it would be something more concrete about their relationship. The movie does not really show the two people interacting and bonding enough to justify the development of the heroine as a Journalist later in the movie and why he would support her crazy rouge activities.

Insert angry black captain joke here!

In terms of the third act, it is sad to say that it is the most complete and least interesting part of this movie. It is your cliché anti-business plot line with the business man or in this case woman being the villain that is not only oppressing the poor “famous and wet blanket” Idol guy but also challenges the integrity of Journalism.

You know that latter is the worse sin!
Even paparazzi gossip is Journalism!
Sarcasm!

The Setting
I know that Korean society is superficial to the degree that I call it the widespread Yuppie pandemic but it is just weird setting a “Journalism is awesome” movie in an entertainment news department. Even in on a good day, that part of the industry is a bastard step child. One the worst days, it is shunned by “proper” journalists like they might catch a plague just by proximity.


How this weird setting is integrated into the movie is also off a bit. Unlike most other journalism movies, it is the entertainment news department that is threatened to be closed down for failing to generate profit.

What!

How terrible at running a newspaper one can be that the entertainment news department is not making any money? The only reason newspapers have entertainment news departments is that they make money from basically being gossip rags. I know that print media is dying. It is worse in Korea I think. But still…

WTF!

In most “Journalism is awesome” stories, it would be the serious news departments that are under the axe. This is no different in Korea although the serious news here is also so gossipy and politically salacious that sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. It feels like the creators changed the setting of a “Journalism is awesome” story to the entertainment news department in order the increase the gimmick factor without considering the implications to the story. However, if you are familiar with Korean dramas, you will know that Korean story telling runs on gimmicks as its core tends to be hollow.

Don’t get me wrong!

There are interesting bits to having the entertainment news department as a setting. The inherent silliness to the gossipy nature of the profession and just the name dropping of well-known actors by characters also played by actors tend to be amusing. What can I say more?

Gossip is fun!

However, trying to do a “Journalism is awesome” story in this setting is very tricky. Even in a more serious setting, this type of story can easily become tacky.  You need a serious degree of self-awareness to pull it off. Sadly, “You Call It Passion” (2015) doesn’t have that. If it did, would they cast Park Bo-Young as its heroine?


The Heroine
The Actress Park Bo-Young is on a career high currently doing a “Jude Law” starring in 3 movies this year: Collective Invention (2015) , You Call It Passion (2015), The Silenced (2015). This is in addition to the hit Korean Drama “Oh My Ghost” (tvN / 2015).

But that is Korean Entertainment industry for you.
Saturation is the name of the game.

As an actress, Park Bo-Young is an interesting case. First, she looks like a high schooler at best even though she is 25 years old. Second, she can do cute and lovable. Third she has decent comedic timing. However, in her recent career, she is trying to be somewhat edgy or raunchy more in the tone of what Jun Ji-Hyun does. Her performances in “Collective Invention” (2015), “You Call It Passion” (2015), and even the “Oh My Ghost” (tvN / 2015) are examples. This creates a weird portrayal of her characters by combining adorable sweetness with more edge. It is something similar to what Melissa Rauch of “The Big Bang Theory” (2007-) or Alyson Hannigan of “How I Met Your Mother” (2005-2014) do.

Melissa Rauch
Alyson Hannigan 

With Park Bo-Young, I cannot say that she pulls it off. She is by no way terrible but what she is doing doesn’t land all the way making her feel more like a lost and confused girl when she tries too hard. So, having her be the heroine in a message movie about waving the “Journalism is awesome” flag in front of daunting odds doesn’t really work. The movie itself doesn’t really help as she barely has any understanding of “Journalism” even though it is stated that she graduated from Journalism program.

I know that a lot of University programs are a joke in Korea but still…

So, having this character be the “I’m resolute in my convictions regarding journalism” heroine is just off putting as she has only been in the job like a month at most. This is one of those movies in which the progression of time is difficult to measure as it is compressed and tries to hide it.

I think her character is 21 or so in this movie.

If the supporting characters did a good job mentoring her, the whole “Joan of Arc” of journalism could have worked. But, there was no time for that and the other characters are rather fuzzy on the matter of journalistic integrity as they are only a few footsteps separated from being paparazzi.

Who are we kidding?

I could not say that they are not paparazzi. Even in the less sleazy moments, there are no real qualms exploiting celebrities, shaping the news to promote specific celebrities, and other personal or financial agendas. It is just part of the job. They aren’t even bothered by blatant plagiarizing other people’s works. It is what the industry does.  

Have you read Korean entertainment articles?
Copy and paste are King!

So, once it is time to act all pretentiously and self-righteously, those aspects get hidden under that bed but we can still see them poking out a bit.

The Case
Considering the movie is at a serious disadvantage in regards to delivering a serious message by the choice of setting and heroine, the case that the heroine puts her soap box on becomes important. Give me some good life or death stuff! Sick kids with evil international corporations is always a cliché but good choice.  “Erin Brockovich” (2000) is a good examples of this.

If you can’t go for their minds, go for their hearts!

In the case of “You Call It Passion” (2015), the case is rather lacking since it is basically a messy contract dispute between a male Korean Idol and his agency. While it can make a juicy gossip topic, no life changing stakes here. A real life equivalent to this fictional case would be the ruckus surrounding the actress/model Clara this year who starred in “Casa Amor: Exclusive For Ladies” (2015). And, compared to her fictional counterparts, I would have to give credit to Clara for having “Balls” and willing to fight dirty.

Clara 

The Male idol in this movie is just a pathetic push over making a bigger mess out of the situation that should have just been fought out by lawyers and solved rather quickly. Our heroine comes to his rescue and just made the situation bigger which is not what a celebrity wants. In other words, this case is rather a lightweight foundation to plant our “Journalism” Banner.

It is just a joke with low stakes like what the entertainment news is to journalism. If the so called victim was more of a sympathetic  character, it would have worked better but alas he is nothing more than a cameo played by a very bland and poor actor. This just makes the triumphant ending of this movie rather ridiculous and overblown.  

Is this spoilers?
How do think this kind of movie would end?

News Papers, Relevant?
While I do find the ending of the movie unintentionally funny because we have little Park Bo-Young figuratively waving an oversized banner on top of a lame case, what is more amusing is that the manner in way the story is concluded basically contradicts the message of the movie.

WTF?

Newspapers are still relevant! This is a main message of the movie. However, the manner in which the case was solved essentially proves the opposite as it totally cuts out print Newspapers from the solution. Newspapers are no longer relevant!

Blogging!
And internet trolling rules!

The integrity of Journalism is still relevant and important! This is the other main message of the movie. But why is traditional Journalism relevant in the age of the internet? Is it the search for truth? Well truth is relative and everyone is in search for truth in their own way. The heart of Journalism its religious attention to proof and fact checking. Without those, reporters are basically bloggers with a business account. Well, now a days, they don’t even have that.

Money is tight!

Unlike Journalism movies of old, the current trend of movies is to rather ignore the whole evidence thing all together. They go for the “publish and making a big splash” route. Get the masses riled up! People who ask for evidence are the villains. “You Call It Passion” (2015) is one of those movies. This hurts the message the movie is trying to sell. In addition, portraying the rest of the news industry as lemmings who also do not care about whether a story has any evidence to support it once the story goes viral does not help also.

Get the pitch folks and torches out!


If I think about it, “You Call It Passion” (2015) would have been much better if it was an outright satirical comedy. Then I could have laughed with the rest of the audience at the end. Since the movie was not, I was the weird person in my screening who was laughing at the movie while the movie was trying to be all serious.  

Others in my screening must have found me irritating!

The ending of “You Call It Passion” (2015) reminded me of another Journalism Korean movie from last year. “The Whistleblower/제보자“ (2014) starring Park Hae-Il is also one of those movies which prove people are just sheep doing whatever the media tells them to do. As this movie comes to mind, I would have to say that there is one major thing to differentiate the two movies.  “You Call It Passion” (2015) is not a left wing skewed movie at all which is odd since most mainstream Korean movies are. This is more so for journalism movies. Yes, the evil business woman is the villain but I do not think that the movie put more thought into this than basically following genre clichés. It is sad that this fact actually makes this movie somewhat refreshing.


At the End
Before I conclude this long review, I would have to say the person who lit this movie should be fired. It is lit too brightly! This hurts the immersiveness of the movie which is already seriously hamstrung by a very clucky way of introducing the characters. This is not a movie to just throw the audience in midway through the beginning. Also the sound mixing is not great.

“You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네” (2015) tries to do a lot but does all of them just mediocrely. The direction is not bad albeit rather dull especially in the beginning. The performances are decent throughout albeit somewhat scattered. While I talked negatively about the casting of Park Bo-Young, she is not the weakest link in the cast. In fact, I would say that this movie shows that Park Bo-Young has screen presence. It is just that she hasn’t found the perfect role for herself yet.

I would have enjoyed “You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네” (2015) far better if it focused on being one thing rather than trying to tell 3 different types of stories. It could have been a funny work place comedy. It could have been an insightful slice of life drama. It could have been a focused message movie. Combining all of these is really difficult and the movie wasn’t successful at this attempt.

Overall, the movie was not unwatchable especially during its middle parts. I have no need to watch it again though. So, I think B- grade.

Score: B- or 6/10
This was Prof. AKIA with a review of You Call It Passion / 열정 같은 소리 하고 있네” (2015).




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Created by AKIA Talking
Email: akoreaninamerica@outlook.com


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