“Maybe” aka “Rabbit and Lizard” (2009) by Joo Ji-hong

“Rabbit and Lizard” is a truly hidden gem that is a must watch for everyone that loves melancholic movies which are not overly dramatic...


“Rabbit and Lizard” is the first feature film of director Joo Ji-hong and had its world premiere at the 2009 (14th) Busan International Film Festival. The always excellent Jang Hyuk and the former member of K-pop group Fin.K.L, Sung Yu-Ri fill the roles of the protagonists.

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The story concerns May (Sung Yu-Ri), a Korean-American adoptee and Eun-Seol (Jang Hyuk), a taxi driver. When May was three years old, she was adopted, and now, after 23 years, she decides to return to South Korea in order to find her roots and her biological parents. Regarding her years in South Korea, May has absolutely no memories and only the great scar on her shoulder, which has the shape of a lizard connects her with the land where she was born. Furthermore, she also has no memories of how she obtained it.  As soon as she steps her foot out of the airport, Eun-Seol (Jang Hyuk) grabs her hand, while he is on the floor in front of his taxi, obviously in great pain. Just before, his doctor informed him that he suffers from heart failure and he is bound to die, since his heart, as  time passes, stops for longer and longer periods of time. As they coincidentally, and on purpose from Eun-Seol’s side, meet again, Eun-Seol decides to help May to find the answers she is looking for. Furthermore, he wants May to help him find the red rabbit that he saw when he was little and he does not remember of where and why he saw it.

The directing by Joo Ji-hong is masterful and elaborates this movie about the fateful meeting of two people that are antithetical, at first glance. On one hand, May is silent and even seems lifeless at the beginning, even though she has no health issues. On the other hand, Eun-Seol is talkative and full of energy, despite the fact that he is the one that suffers from his health condition. These two only have in common the fact that both have no memories of their past as young children and both search for something that is important for them.


Regardless of the fact that “Rabbit and Lizard” has as its main theme the aforementioned role of fate, it also deals with other numerous ideas. One of them is the concept of adoptees. The co-writers Joo Ji-hong and Kim Jae-hwan highlight the thoughts that come across the mind of the adoptees through May. Especially the adoptees’ concerns when they choose to find their biological parents.  This production begs and partially answers the question: what is preferable, to discover that the biological parents consciously gave away their child or that an inevitable event caused the adoption? Finally, the movie obviously stresses the state of mind, the reactions and actions of someone who learns that has extremely little time to live.

It’s worth mentioning that the movie implements a quite slow pace. Regardless, there is no useless frame neither dull scene, due to the great editing by Choi Jae-geun. Moreover, the mystery about May’s past, the origin of her scar and what is the red rabbit that Eun-Seol so desperately searches to find, never let the viewer become bored.  Little by little, the pieces of the puzzle come together.

The movie, as is also a melodrama, constantly reminds the viewer that Eun-Seol has a triggering bomb in his chest. Nevertheless, there are few scenes with Eun-Seol that bring a genuine smile to the viewer by the humor they emit. These rare humorous scenes are a great addition to the movie, since they reflect real life, which has both pleasurable and dreadful moments.

The importance the director Joo Ji-hong shows to every single detail is quite evident. A great example is the subtle way he chooses to show the elevation of the relationship between May and Joo Ji-hong. The transformation of their relationship from typical acquaintances to friends is demonstrated smartly in the scene where May sits for the first time in the front seat of Eun-Seol’s taxi car.


Both leads, Sung Yu-Ri and Jang Hyuk are gorgeous and the cinematography by Kim Hyeon-sung aids to highlight this fact even more. Jang Hyuk is a well-established actor who never fails to impress with his acting, always has an enormous presence in every scene, and he manages to breathe life into the character he portrays by his expressive eyes and also by his body movements.

Additionally, Sung Yu-Ri makes a great impression concerning her acting, which seems to improve significantly as the movie’s story unfolds. Also, her angelic voice is unforgettable, which is truly a feast for the ears, especially during the voice-overs. Sung Yu-Ri and Jang Hyuk also have splendid chemistry and succeed together and individually, in moving the viewer’s heart.

As for the piano background music, it absolutely fits the general aesthetics of the movie. The track that is the most deeply touching and memorable is the one that accompanies the scene where Eun-Seol is in his taxi and, for one more time,  suffers from terrible chest pain, being in enormous agony.

“Rabbit and Lizard” highlights the fact that the brain can forget the utterly heart-breaking and painful events in order to protect the heart from the constant pain. However, the heart may forget the events but never the pain.  “Rabbit and Lizard” is a truly hidden gem that is a must watch for everyone that loves melancholic movies which are not overly dramatic, even though the final scenes and ending may leave you wanting more.


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Asian Film Vault: “Maybe” aka “Rabbit and Lizard” (2009) by Joo Ji-hong
“Maybe” aka “Rabbit and Lizard” (2009) by Joo Ji-hong
“Rabbit and Lizard” is a truly hidden gem that is a must watch for everyone that loves melancholic movies which are not overly dramatic...
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