Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
In all, it was lacking. What should be there were absent and what should be lessened were excessive. However, Shin Min Ah and Lee Yoo Young’s chemistry is more than enough to give 10, no 100 out of 10. This is about mystery thriller Diva.
Diva talks about humans’ desire and madness through Lee Young (Shin Min Ah), who desperately wants to stay on the throne, and Soo Jin (Lee Yoo Young), who can’t escape the shadow of Lee Young.
Lee Young, the world’s No.1 diver, gets involved in a big accident of falling off a cliff while riding with her longtime friend and colleague Soo Jin. After the incident, Soo Jin went missing, and Lee Young regained consciousness, but completely lost her memory of the accident. But even before she can grieve over the disappearance of her dear friend, she has to hurry back to the diving boards for the national team trials.
Is it because her body and mind are not fully recovered? Whenever Lee Young gets on the diving board, memories from the accident flashes back, which results in poor performance. To make matters worse, another diver unexpectedly gets the spotlight amid Lee Young’s slump, and the secrets of Soo Jin, whom she thought was closer than anyone else, are revealed one by one. In the end, Lee Young is eaten up by the suspicions that Soo Jin tried to kill her and her own desire for the No. 1 spot and is engulfed in madness.
Till the second part, the movie is flawless. Without lengthy explanations, director Cho Seul Ye delicately and speedily directs scenes of Lee Young and Soo Jin, who are in an uncomfortable relationship as “friends and competitors,” and Lee Young’s inability to overcome trauma after the accident. There is also a considerable amount of “fun of the thriller genre,” which comes as Lee Young gradually learns the secrets of Soo Jin and the truth behind the accident by putting together the pieces of the puzzle found in her broken memory.
The use of “diving” is also impressive. The dizziness of diving from a high elevation is enough to stimulate not only Lee Young’s trauma but also the tension that the viewers feel. Also, in a way, it strangely resembles Lee young, who is gradually destroying herself after waking up the latent desire and madness. In particular, the scenes where the characters dive presents a unique cinematic beauty, providing fresh stimulation.
Yet, the latter half of the film shows apparent shortages. Unlike the first half, which captivated the viewers with delicate psychological descriptions and novel topic of diving, Diva loses its momentum from the moment the “most interesting” truth is revealed. Watching how people treat Lee Young after the accident and Lee Young’s confusion between hallucinations and reality reminds you of a series of scenes that you already saw in countless works and hinders the concentration. The emotions that have been steadily piled up from the beginning tense up the atmosphere as if they are about to explode soon, but out of nowhere, disappears into thin air.
It was Shin Min Ah and Lee Yoo Young who saved the film that was on the verge of being titled “anticlimax thriller.” Shin Min Ah perfectly digested Lee Young, who went from being No. 1 diver who knows how to play cool to a desperate person swallowed up by trauma, guilt, and madness. As it was a side of the actress we have never seen before, Shin Min Ah’s dramatic transformation seems quite unconventional in a good sense. Lee Yoo Young shows off her presence with restrained acting even despite her small role. She excellently portrayed the subtle emotion of Soo Jin, who is resentful and jealous of Lee Young, but still stays by her side tied by the name of a friend.
Diva is a mystery thriller that has both its strengths and weaknesses. However, aside from all the pros and cons, the fact that we got to see a whole new side of Shin Min Ah will make this one memorable work for many.
Verdict: The mystery thriller in which Shin Min Ah and Lee Yoo Young’s gold medal-winning performances shine bright (6.5/10)
Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.