Rom-com "20th Century Girl" follows a teen girl's first love as she navigates conflict with her best friend. (Netflix)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Korean Drama film ‘20th Century Girl’ broke everyone’s heart including mine

Arguably the best K-Drama of 2022 sparks emotion and nostalgia while keeping it painfully real.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/kristystell/" target="_self">Kristy Castellanos</a>

Kristy Castellanos

February 28, 2023
In this Korean Romance Drama released in October 2022, director Bang Woo-ri captures the essence of unexpected love while showcasing the beauty it brings forth through friendship. The film is set in 1999 and encases this feeling of nostalgia. “20th Century Girl” is available on Netflix and has a run time of about 200 minutes.

Na Bo-Ra (Kim Yoo-jeong) is the main focus of this film as she is seen going through the motions of falling in love while tied to her friendship with Kim Yeon-du (Roh Yoon-seo), all while in high school.

The premise of the story is that Na Bo-Ra’s best friend Kim Yeon-du is leaving for the Unites States for surgery, but asks Na Bo-Ra to gather information on her “love at first sight.” While her friend is away Na Bo-Ra becomes enraptured by love and starts to edge away from her friendship with Kim Yeon-du. 

The film displays the complexities of friendship and its evolution when love comes into play. The theme of this film hits the spot when it comes to romantic dramas full of tropes. But the part that is the most compelling is the realistic depiction of young love.

What makes this film an absolute tear-jerker is the element of losing someone you love. Our protagonist Bo-Ra falls in love and feels confused by it. This confusion causes her to prioritize her friend’s needs over hers. Bo-Ra’s selflessness creates that lump in your throat as you watch this girl navigate adolescence. 

The director Bang Woo-ri encapsulates that same feeling in 200 heartfelt minutes that simultaneously fulfill and empty the heart. The aesthetic feel of the film gives the mood of the 90s as seen through fashion, setting and music. Bo-Ra wears oversized street-style clothes reminiscent of urban cities in South Korea, the feel of the film is intimate, with small stores the characters visit like that of Bo-Ra’s father, a video rental store that is very reminiscent of the 90s.

The use of bright colors and lighting by the director fabricates this atmosphere of romantic longing that maybe at some point we have all desired. It is this relatability that makes this film truly special and bittersweet in every way imaginable. 

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