I know I can always trust Chungmuro to surprise me. I’ve been trying to persuade my friends to watch Korean films. But it’s so damn hard, they just do not understand, they go HUUUUH?!, they resent at the thought of having to watch a film with subtitles beneath, they think such are distracting to the point that it’d take away their enjoyment (even the littlest if any) of watching. Which in a way boggles me because they can watch Korean dramas on their PCs and on TV, with the so called irritating and space-hogging subs, rave and swoon endlessly about this and that actor, and yet they cannot convince themselves, to give the big screen a chance. I do not freaking understand this logic. Not to sound all preachy about anything or everything Korean (or so my friends claim myself to be), but hey, why not?
Korean film is so chock full of creativity and originality (and sometimes explicitness) that you don’t always get from the normal Hollywood or Chinese wowza hyped flics. It’s not devoid of cliches and predictability, some so senseless and complicated that even I don’t get or understand at times. But when it takes itself seriously, one can be blown away immensely. One can be WOWed like “wadaheck did I just see?” I profess that I’d never been as mesmerised watching films from other countries, just because when Chungmuro dares itself to do something, it can go all out, and my jaw just drops.
I recently watched Old Boy, and was dumbstruck fascinated, by its originality and creativity in its thought process and story-telling, by its flagrant honesty, by its ability to move me in spite of its ou-of-the norm taboo-fied elements. It’s 10 years old, and I never thought I’d be able to digest or get it, but it took me by surprise all the same. Things were so raw and bold, and yet film managed to move me emotionally. I loved it a lot.
I went on to watch A Muse: Eun Gyo after that, an equally fascinating (but flawed) film about reversal of youth and human emotions in conflict. The reason why I prefer to watch Korean films, when they do things right, they address human issues in ways that you’d never imagine, they thread on lines so grey and unfathomable you would find gross and unacceptable, but yet at the same time, you find realism in all of that. The brutal and honest reality of life and the complexity of human character.
Plot tells of a renowned 70-year-old poet Lee Jeok Yeo who falls for a 17-year-old girl named Eun Gyo. As he muses himself deeper with Eun Gyo, he goes through emotional turmoil and self-destruction, to the extant that he’s willing to give up his fame and reputation as one of the nation’s most respected literary figures. His student Seo Ji Woo finds himself entangled in his teacher’s web of attraction towards Eun Gyo and later discovers the horrible truth about self-worth and self-depreciation.
I don’t want to go on a tirade of my comments on this film. Actually I’m not sure I’m able to review it because of its focus on sensitivity of human issues and morale, it’s a bit complicated. But the crucial character, the muse as titled, Eun Gyo, gave me lots to ponder about human interaction and emotion, just as how her actions, words and gestures managed to affect the 2 main guys in the story. Tapped with solid performances from the leading actors Park Hae Il and Kim Mu Yeol, and especially a wonderfully earthy and impressive performance by newcomer Kim Go Eun (who has reportedly never acted in her whole life before this film), coupled with the visually beautifully direction, this film managed to leave an impressive and impactful mark upon me. The story-telling could have been better, but the essence was delivered on point.
One of the better films that I have seen this year, with a personal rating of 8/10.
Check out A Muse: Eun Gyo’s trailer:
credits: photos as tagged / ganoolblogspot