Sunday, January 31, 2021

My Love Don't Cross That River: Film Review

27 November 2014
Director and cinematographer Jin Mo-young spent 15 months filming a couple from South Korea who had been married for 76 years. Jo Byeong-man is 98 years old, and his wife,  Kang Kye-yeol, is 89 years old.  

The resulting documentary--My Love, Don't Cross That River--depicts this couple engaging in daily activities such as shopping, cooking, eating, doing laundry, doing light yard work and in other ways still meeting their needs. 

The first half of the film depicts their playful interaction with each other, their love for their dogs, and their ability to manage fairly well in their late life. 

By the midpoint, the documentary starts introducing a number of challenges that the couple face. 

It's clear that Jo Byeong-man's cough is an indication of growing health challenges. Kang Kye-yeol also talks about the loss of half of their twelve children when she purchases clothing for them to have in the afterlife. 

One of the most tense scenes in the documentary takes place at a birthday party for the matriarch. One of the surviving sisters decides this is the time to confront her oldest brother about his dereliction of duty.  Needless to say, that ruins the festive mood. 

Towards the end of the film, Kang Kye-yeol recognizes that her husband is in his final decline. She works to prepare for that inevitability by gathering up clothing to burn, part of a Korean tradition.  A part of my heart breaks for her after spending over an hour watching them dress in matching clothing, bantering with each other, stroking each others' hair, and in other ways living a life that is tightly woven together. 

I can't image the magnitude of loss that a spouse feels after decades of companionship. 



  1. I am not sure, at this particular point in life, if I could face a documentary like this, as important as it is. But maybe one day. We could all learn a lot about not only how to live, but how to die. I've been married for 46 years and I also can't imagine the magnitude of loss if he predeceases me. Or, vice-versa. Alana

    1. Yes, the film does depict the wife's loss, but the majority of the film celebrates the couple and their relationship. I can't imaging losing my spouse of 23 years (we married in our 30s). Loss of a spouse is indeed challenging.

  2. I find stories like this so inspiring! It CAN be done! Thank you for sharing, Karen!

    1. Thanks for reading, commenting, Diane. Stay warm and cozy this winter.