Gyun Woo (Cha Tae-hyun) sees a drunk girl (Jeon Ji-hyun) late one night on the subway. He watches her throw up over two fellow travelers and collapse, but not before she's called him "Honey" on the way down. Says Gyun Woo in narrative: "This one word just screwed up my life."
He takes the girl to a motel to sober up and that starts a fractious relationship. Jeon's character goes through more mood swings than there are versions of Microsoft's operating system, and the hapless Gyun has to absorb them all. She drinks to oblivion, slaps him around, makes him exchange his sneakers for her high-heeled shoes as they walk through the park. It turns out she's still grieving over a previous relationship; Gyun guesses at what haunts her, but can't fully understand.
It's the acting that lifts this modest material. Jeon, in her third film, makes her discordant é and physical comedy make the mutual attraction credible and funny. Like many Korean movies, the actors flit effortlessly from unabashed slapstick to unconsolable morbidity.
Kwak's youthful sensibility mirrors the minds of his young characters, and the film is ambitious, hysterical and, by turns, exhilarating. Optimistic in tone and yet tragic at the end, Girl is a rewarding challenge—and further proof that Korean flicks are the sassiest girls on Asian cinema's block.