Chunhyang feels like an ancient fairy tale that has been given a fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately, the paint is the most interesting part. The narrative, told in the broadest of strokes, offers few surprises.

The story follows a young prince who falls for Chunhyang, a courtesan’s daughter, and pledges his everlasting love to her. When he is called away because of his father’s work, Chunhyang is deeply troubled. Things get worse when a new governor moves in and demands that she be his courtesan.

The story is highly predictable, and the characters fail to become more than colorful archetypes. But wow… the colors are reason enough to make time for this extravagant spectacle.

Your opinion of this film will probably depend on your reaction to its style: It is presented like opera, and with such a devotion to tradition that you’ll swear you’ve been made to wear a stifling period costume yourself. The details of day-to-day life are understated; emotions are blown up huge and loud. The story is narrated in song by an expressive, gravel-voiced storyteller, and if you’re like me you’ll find him to be distracting and intrusive, constantly upsetting any suspension of disbelief.  I wanted to know more about the characters, but Chunhyang, in what is probably an admirable insistence on representing a artistic tradition, kept me at arm’s length. Thus, while the story “rang true” as a parable, the storytelling failed to engage me. I stayed for the colors. That was enough.