The 2001 film Failan is actually based on the Japanese novel Love Letter by Jiro Asada, and stars the Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung as the title star Failan. The story starts after the death of her mother and father.
Failan moves to Korea in order to be reunited with her surviving relatives. But, she soon discovers that they all moved to Canada over twelve months ago. Instead of chasing them to Canada, she decides to stay and make a living in Korea. Unfortunately, she is desperate to do this and opts to secure her life in Korea by organising an arranged marriage through a match-making agency. Kang-jae (Choi Min-sik) is introduced to us here; he’s an unusual gangster as he isn’t respected by his peers. Not being very well off, he decides to approve of the arranged marriage. Failan dreams of the day Kang-jae will visit her, and frequently gazes at the only photograph of him that she has. Despite writing him letters to him expressing her sorrow about how much she misses and thinks about him, she never gives him them. This is until Kang-jae’s boss asks him to be the scapegoat for a murder in exchange for some money, and he must turn to his wife for help. Will she help her husband, despite never meeting him?
The film offers an interesting mix of gangster and romance genres. It’s got a real old-time aesthetic to it, which makes it warm, familiar and instantly loveable. The unsubtle soundtrack, which could annoy some viewers, becomes recognisable and just another quirky addition to the film. It’s a great watch to warm the soul; especially when it’s so cold outside!
Watch the original Korean trailer below. Will you give it a chance?