Warning: This review contains spoilers.
Ma Dae-yoon’s most recent film, Switch, tells the story of a Christmas miracle that emphasizes the importance of family. Starring Kwon Sang-woo, Oh Jung-se, Lee Min-jung, Park So-yi, and Kim Joon, this light-hearted movie is full of love and laughter, offering a reminder that there’s more to life than riches and fame.
Park Kang (Kwon Sang-woo) is an award-winning actor who is beloved for his on-screen roles, but off-screen, he’s much harder to work with. Known for his dating scandals and his rude attitude toward movie staff and even his manager and old friend Jo Yoon (Oh Jung-se), Kang’s public image is anything but positive. Regardless of the holiday season, the actor is demanding and unaccommodating, forcing Yoon to drink with him on Christmas Eve, consequently not allowing him to go home to his family. He even sets appointments on Christmas Day, preventing Yoon from spending the holiday with his family. That fateful Christmas Eve, however, Kang meets a unique taxi driver who offers to show him how his life could be different if he had made one different choice in the past.
When he awakens the next day, Kang finds himself in an unfamiliar house with his first love, Soo-hyun (Lee Min-jung), as his wife, and twin children, Ro-hee (Park So-yi) and Ro-ha (Kim Joon), calling him “dad.” He quickly realizes that he’s been thrown into an alternate universe, and when he seeks out his friend and manager for help, he discovers that Yoon is the one who is the famous actor in this world. Learning to navigate his way through this life, Kang learns to take care of, love, and appreciate his wife and children; he slowly finds himself de-prioritizing himself and all the riches and fame and instead puts his family first. Even after miraculously getting back into acting, Kang finds himself giving up opportunities to take care of his family and becoming a generally kinder, more patient person. When Christmas Eve arrives yet again, though, Kang meets the same taxi driver and awakens to his old life in his penthouse suite again. Wanting to make that alternate universe a reality, Kang seeks out Soo-hyun in his own universe, firm in his desire to remain the better person that he’s become and not revert back to the Park Kang who had originally existed in this world.
While the film can be a little predictable, it’s exactly what it needs to be as an easy-to-watch romantic comedy. From feeling endearment when Kang plays with Ro-hee and Ro-ha to sadness when characters wind up unwell, Switch brings out a wide variety of emotions in the viewer. Although switching universes and winding up in a different life is an unrelatable concept itself, the story is made relatable with the well-written characters who are imperfect and human. And despite the alternate universes, director and writer Ma Dae-yoon succeeds in drawing parallels between the two, creating a sense of deja vu as viewers experience the film.
All of these factors contribute to the beauty of this film, but the highlight is, without a doubt, the great acting by the cast. Kwon Sang-woo’s Park Kang is a complex character who shows vast growth from the beginning to the end, and he portrays his role especially well with his facial expressions. His eyes are a clear window into his soul, showing his sorrow and hopelessness slowly morph into hopefulness by the end. Lee Min-jung and Oh Jung-se fantastically portray Soo-hyun and Jo Yoon, but the main stars of the movie are child actors Park So-yi and Kim Joon, who play Ro-hee and Ro-ha, respectively. Much like their on-screen father, the two children are incredibly expressive. None of their acting is overly exaggerated, and the two portray every negative emotion – every bit of hesitance, sadness, and disappointment – in ways that will certainly tug on heartstrings, making it impossible not to fall in love with them.
With an interesting storyline and lovable characters, Switch is a great film to watch by yourself, with a significant other, or with family. Ideal for any occasion, the movie is fun to enjoy without having to think too much, making it especially perfect after a long day’s work.