When Soo-hyuk (Bae Soo-Bin), a schoolteacher, and his wife Yi-young (Cha Soo-Yeon) die mysteriously in a fire at their home, police detective Hyung-gu (Cho Jin-Woong) begins to suspect that local villagers, who were concerned about Yi-young’s bizarre behaviour, were responsible for their deaths. However, after attempted questioning leads to an all-night drinking session, Hyung-gu wakes up to find himself having assumed Soo-hyuk’s identity as a teacher, including living in his strangely undamaged house. As he tries to convince people of his true identity and find his family, Hyung-gu finds himself caught in a nightmarish world where everything he knows is wrong.

Director Jung, who also wrote the film’s script, initially begins the film by giving the impression that it will be a supernatural horror-thriller in the vein of 2016’s The Wailing, with Yi-young being possessed by a different person every night and making her and the gentle Soo-hyuk the tragic villains who are opposed by the superstitious villagers.

However, whilst Jung manages to subvert this expectation well by killing off the couple, his handling of the aftermath relies too much on tonally inappropriate comedy concerning the villagers attempting to cover up their involvement in the deaths, which also clashes with the later plot twist concerning Hyung-gu’s seeming loss of identity. This unconventional narrative structure also results in a lack of adequate character development for Hyung-gu, whose strained relationship with his wife and children has to be crammed into one scene instead of being allowed to unfold at a more natural pace.

In addition, this means that not enough time is spent establishing Hyung-gu as a character as well as his relationship to the village community, making his frantic insistence on his identity less dramatically effective. Jung does manage to stage some dramatically impressive sequences, with Hyung-gu’s faltering attempts to assume the teacher role expected of him and a dinner with his wife, now a wealthier woman with two healthy children, in particular standing out.

However, the lack of any kind of clear resolution for Hyung-gu as well as the gradually slowing pace ultimately robs the film of any dramatic momentum. Cho does his best with the role of Hyung-gu, essaying the character’s initial carefree and confident manner as well as his growing confusion, anger and frustration as he is unable to return to the life he knew. However, he is constrained by the limitations of the script, which gives him less opportunity to explore the character fully.

Me and Me tries to innovate with its unconventional narrative structure. However this decision, along with a lack of sufficient explanation for Hyung-gu’s situation, results in its main protagonist’s central issue of identity receiving too little exploration.

Part of Fantasia Film Festival 2020