BERLIN (AFP) – The sole Asian contender for the Berlin film festival's Golden Bear top prize, minimalist South Korean breakup drama "Come Rain, Come Shine", met with jeers from critics Thursday.
It tells the story of a woman who announces to her husband she is leaving him but, before she goes, spends one last day with him in their home -- an experience that fills them both with longing and regret.
"Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anneunda", as the film is called in Korean, features long takes of shifting weather patterns, wistful gazes out of windows at falling rain, sparse dialogue, little music, and a pared-down plot.
It was the fourth Berlinale outing for director Lee Yoon-ki, and his first competition entry.
But despite the prominent cast including Lim Soo-jung, who last appeared at the festival in 2008 in Park Chan-wook's quirky "I'm a Cyborg But That's OK", and Seoul heart-throb Hyun Bin, critics loudly booed the bleak picture.
"I know I have more of a spotlight on me in the competition so the reaction might be more critical but I'm happy for the exposure," Lee said.
The 45-year-old director, who studied business management at the University of Southern California before becoming a film-maker, was asked by a French reporter whether Korean audiences might be more responsive to the picture.
"It's not a mainstream film, not everyone will like it," he said. "Of course it is the hope that we have as directors that a lot of people will want to see our movie but that is not always the case."
Hyun defended the film's art-house ambitions.
"We need slow-moving films that go deep into the emotions of their characters. If you only have an audience for action films then we won't have a lot of development in the industry," he said.
"I'd like to make a contribution to seeing a broader range of films made in Korea."
"Come Rain, Come Shine" is one of 16 contenders for the festival's Golden and Silver Bear prizes, which will be handed out a gala ceremony Saturday by a jury led by Italian-American actress and director Isabella Rossellini.