Shelf Life (2005) arrived in our mailbox a while ago. I had added it to our queue ages agon and had since forgotten exactly what it was about. In the meantime, both Richard and I developed the idea that the film was foreign and subtitled. I specifically developed the idea that the film was Korean.
These aren’t the reasons why we avoided putting the disc in the player and instead chose movie after movie, including plenty of subtitled Korean movies, to watch instead. Eventually, we decided to get it over with and just watch the thing.
I remember that I wanted to see this in the same way I am interested in all movies and TV shows about libraries and librarians. It’s a weird introspective, self mocking, others mocking type of enjoyment I get from depictions of these people and places. AND BOY DOES THIS MOVIE DELIVER! Sorry I had to shout. Shelf Life is not Korean, nor is it subtitled. It is a stark, yet funny, slow starting, acerbic look at small library hierarchy and personalities. It reminds me of The Librarians. It is less big laughs than small furtive, guilty chuckles (at least for me), and it is utterly impossible to stop watching.
It starts like a quite school assignment production with the characters awkwardly exchanging dialog and then it grabs your attention with a fishhook to your face (not literally). Suddenly you are wrapped up in the mystery of an unfolding story of miscommunication, misconception, quick judgements and terribly questionable human behavior. This is love, ladies and gentlemen. Though, I have to admit, not the marrying kind of love. I probably will not want to watch this movie over and over again. No, this is a summer camp romance kind of love. The kind that you deny ever happened when you catch each other’s eye in the hallway on your way to class, but secretly you review over and over again in your diary at night.