Honest Candidate (2020) [Film Review]

Honest Candidate; or, Vote for Joo Sang Seok!
      But we're platonic at this point. Our home is the capital of friendzone and I'm the mayor!
When the first trailer for Honest Candidate dropped in December, 2019, I was extremely hyped because of the amazing Ra Mi Ran, but due to the raging pandemic, the premiere passed me by and, just recently, I remembered about the film and checked it out. The movie directed by Chang Yoo Jung, and inspired by a 2014 Brazilian production O Candidato Honesto is a clever reinvention of the not-being-able-to-lie formula, introduced by Liar, Liar (1997) film with Jim Carrey.
Release Info
Directed by: Chang Yoo Jung Starring: Ra Mi Ran, Kim Mu Yeol, Na Moon Hee
Language: Korean Original Title: 정직한 후보 Runtime: 104 min
Joo Sang Seok (Ra Mi Ran) is a third-term congresswoman who tries to get re-elected for the fourth time. Although she started out as an honest social activist, raised by her grandmother, Kim Ok Hee (Na Moon Hee), she gradually became a standard, untruthful politician, doing shady deals with other congressmen. While Joo Sang Seok hopes to win the elections, her grandmother makes a wish that Joo Sang Seok become an honest person again. As a result, the politician suddenly finds herself unable to tell a lie. In order to protect Joo Sang Seok from uncomfortable situations during the campaign, her personal advisor, Park Hee Chul (Kim Mu Yeol), and family members step into action. Eventually, they decide to use Joo Sang Seok’s truthfulness as the game-changing aspect of the elections. She becomes an honest candidate.
Lie to Me
I gave the film a try thinking that it will be a well-made remake of Liar, Liar, but it turned out to be much more than that! Honest Candidate is a fast roller coaster filled with comedy, brutal satire of modern politics, and a touch of family drama. Ra Mi Ran steals this movie from the very minute with her epic acting.
Having known the actress from Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) and Reply 1988 (2015), I am completely gobsmacked by her acting range and excellent comedic timing. I could not get enough of Ra Mi Ran’s hilarious facial expressions and fits of rage. She totally rocks and carries the whole movie.
Apart from the comedy, I also appreciated the light moments with Joo Sang Seok’s husband (Yon Gyung Ho) and son (Jang Dong Jo). Evidently, the most touching scenes of the film are the ones with the grandma character, but they surprisingly work in the story. Actor Kim Mu Yeol also has an opportunity to shine, even though his role is just a supporting one. The interactions between the main heroine and the advisor are really sweet.
Director Chang Yoo Jung might not have extensive filmography, but she certainly knows how to cook up light-hearted flicks with heartwarming messages (for instance, Finding Mr. Destiny (2010) and The Bros (2017)). Honest Candidate may be considered to be a remake but thanks to a thoughtful script and brilliant performance of Ra Mi Ran it very much stands on its own.
If you are in the mood for a happy-go-lucky comedy without unnecessary ideological preaching, then I recommend Honest Candidate. Get that ballot and cast your vote for her. Once you hear “Candidate no.1 Joo Sang Seok” election song, you won’t be able to get it out of your head! Here’s hoping that Ra Mi Ran will continue making more movies like this one.
Overall score: 8/10

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