ContactSales: Finecut, Seoul ([email protected])
Premiere: Cannes Film Festival (Critics' Week), 14 May 2010. Theatrical release: South Korea, 2 Sep 2010.
Presented by Boston Investments (SK), in association with Kofic. Produced by Filma Pictures (SK), in association with Tori Pictures (SK). Executive producers: Harry Kim, Han Man-taek, Jeong Hyeon. Producer: Park Gu-yeong.
Script: Choi Gwan-yeong. Photography: Kim Gi-tae. Editing: Kim Mi-ju. Music: Kim Tae-seong. Production design: Shim Jeom-hui. Sound: Song Jin-hyeok.
Cast: Seo Yeong-hui (Kim Bok-nam), Ji Seong-won (Hae-won), Baek Su-ryeon (Dong-ho's granny), Park Jeong-hak (Man-jong), Bae Seong-wu (Cheol-jong), Oh Yong (Deuk-soo), Lee Ji-eun (Kim Yeon-hui), Kim Gyeong-ae (Pa-ju's granny), Son Yeong-sun (Sun-yi's granny), Lee Myeong-ja (Gae-tong's granny), Yu Sun-cheol (Old man with Alzheimer's), Jo Deok-jae (Police officer Seo), Chae Shi-hyeon (Mi-ran), Tak Seong-eun (Ji-su), Hong Seung-jin (Yankee's), Hwang Min-ho (Dodger's), Hong Jae-seong (Officer Jang), Jeong Gi-seob (Officer Choi), An Jang-hun (Mr. Jang), Myeong Ro-jin (bank manager), Kim Gyeong-ran (old lady at bank), Jae Min (victim), Park Jeong-sun (victim's father), Seong Won-yong (supervisor), Han Dong-hak (superintendant), Dennis (Westerner), Yuk Sae-jin, Shim Seung-hyeon (Mudo policemen), Kim Yong, Yu Seung-oh (Seoul policemen), Na Jong-ho (old villager), Hang Hae-ji (old villager's daughter), Yu Ae-jin (young Bok-nam), Chun Yeong-min (young Hae-won), Park Jong-bin (young Man-jong), Lee Da-un (young Cheol-jong), Park Seung-a (young Deok-su), Kim Wu-seok (young Seo), Seo Seung-hwa, Kim Hyeon-su (bankers), Lee Gang-hui (tearoom waitress), An Su-yeon (restaurant waitress), Kim Wu-geun (coupon boy).
Bedevilled 김복남 살인사건의 전말
2009, colour, 2.35:1, 116 mins
Directed by Jang Cheol-su (장철수)
By Derek Elley
Sat, 15 May 2010, 13:53 PM (HKT)
Gory genre item takes too long to get to the money shots. Beyond fantasy festivals, some ancillary potential if shortened.
Seoul, present day. Thirtyish bank employee Hae-won (Ji Seong-won), strung out after being threatened as a witness to an attempted murder, is forced by her boss to take a break after freaking out at work. She goes to the island of Mudo, where her grandparents once lived, and stays at the simple home of Kim Bok-nam (Seo Yeong-hui), with whom she had a close friendship when both were in their teens but whose constant letters she's since ignored. Life on the backward, undeveloped island is hard, and Bok-nam is treated as little more than a slave by her physically abusive husband, Man-jong (Park Jeong-hak), his brother (Cheol-jong) and the local old women. All of Bok-nam's love is reserved for her young daughter Yeon-hui (Lee Ji-eun), with whom she tries to escape from the small, claustrophobic island - with or without the help of smartly dressed city girl Hae-won.
Despite a terrific performance by SEO Yeong-hui 서영희 | 徐令姬 — played another abused victim after her kidnapped prostitute in The Chaser 추격자 (2008) — Bedevilled 김복남 살인사건의 전말 (2009) is actually made of up very familiar elements from South Korean cinema's thematic vault: a Seoul yuppie stranded among brutish rural types, bucket loads of nasty physical abuse, flashbacks to happier days of youth, and deeply buried traumas that resurface in violence. Given this not-so-special content, the film settles down (after a 10-minute introduction) into one long wait for the script to pull the pin on the main character's bottled-up anger — which comes after more than an hour of character development that could easily be cut by a third.
Seo's playing of the physically plucky, ever-optimistic Bok-nam keeps the film perfectly watchable during this long lead-up, but it makes her co-lead JI Seong-won 지성원 seem colourless when the drama should really be about their odd-couple friendship in an isolated, backward community. This is partly a weakness of the script, which loses interest in Hae-won's psychology after a strong start as an uptight Seoul yuppie, and also never gets a proper handle on their teenage attraction to each other. But it's also partly due to TV drama actress Ji's performance, which is cool and unengaging as the big-city yuppie. Added to which, the consistent depth of Seo's performance — visible especially in scenes between mother and daughter, but also with a visiting hooker, nicely played by CHAE Shi-hyeon 채시현 — ironically lessens the impact of her final rampage, as up to that time she's looked capable of easily going a few rounds with her neanderthal husband.
Despite these basic flaws, which could be lessened by a ruthless re-edit, former KIM Ki-duk 김기덕 | 金基德 a.d. JANG Cheol-soo 장철수 | 張哲秀 acquits himself well on the technical side in his first feature. Realistically handsome widescreen camerawork by KIM Gi-tae 김기태 (Beautiful 아름답다 (2007), Rough Cut 영화는 영화다 (2008)) makes the most of the island's natural setting without over-prettifying it, and the slaughter in the final half-hour is staged well enough in a generic way, with Bok-nam ("I looked at the sun for a long time, and it spoke to me") dispatching her enemies with an almost casual air.