Foxy Festival 페스티발
Contemporary sex comedy
2010, colour, 2.35:1, 110 mins
Directed by Lee Hae-young (이해영 | 李海暎)
By Derek Elley
Thu, 01 September 2011, 22:40 PM (HKT)
A top-quality cast makes this more than an average comedy about secret sex lives. Asian and genre events.
Seoul, the present day. Loose-cannon Gwak Jang-bae (Shin Ha-gyun), a neighbourhood policeman, is obsessed with his sexual prowess and continually wants to have sex with his live-in girlfriend, Ji-su (Eom Ji-won), an English teacher at a private school who is bored with his macho behaviour. Forthright high-school student Ju Ja-hye (Baek Jin-hui) sells her sweat-stained panties on the internet and wants to lose her virginity to scruffy fish-sausage seller Choi-gang Sang-du (Ryoo Seung-bum); the older man is uninterested in her advances but Ja-hye cannot work out why. Ja-hye's mother, who sells hanbok (traditional Korean female dress), discovers the owner of a hardware shop opposite, Gi-bong (Seong Dong-il), is into S&M and starts having sessions with him in the back of his shop, assuming a dominatrix role. Kim Gwang-rok (Oh Dal-su), Ja-hye's teacher, is a married man who is secretly into wearing women's clothes when his wife is not around. When Jang-bae discovers Ji-su has ordered a vibrator, he has a major crisis over his manhood and stops sleeping with her. Meanwhile, as his neighbourhood has been marked for a moral clean-up campaign by the police, it's only time before Jang-bae also bumps heads with its denizens' licentious goings-on.
Writer-director LEE Hae-young 이해영 | 李海暎 (wannabe sex-change comedy Like a Virgin 천하장사 마돈나 (2006)) turns in a much smoother product with Foxy Festival 페스티발 (2010), a comedy of manners about the secret (and not so secret) sexual lives of a group of interconnected people in an upper-middle class district of Seoul. Well-played by a quality cast, whose names hoist the film well above the level of an average sex comedy, it manages to be forthright without becoming smutty and frank without showing any nudity at all. After a spirited first hour, the tempo slackens and the movie looks like it's heading for a conventional, middle-class resolution; that doesn't in fact transpire, though the second half could still lose 10 minutes to its advantage.
SHIN Ha-gyun 신하균 | 申河均 (the military investigator in recent Korean War movie The Front Line 고지전 (2011)) has the showiest role as a boastful, macho cop who suddenly finds his sexual prowess under threat; but although Lee gives Shin an entertainingly free rein, the actor's over-sized performance is bearable as it doesn't set the tone for the whole film. Most, like veteran actress SHIM Hye-jin 심혜진 (as a housewife who starts taking an interest in S&M) and experienced character actor OH Dal-su 오달수 (as a teacher into women's undies), underplay their parts, and even RYU Seung-beom 류승범 | 柳昇範 dials down his usual tendency to over-act.
The best playing comes from EOM Ji-won 엄지원 (The Scarlet Letter 주홍글씨 (2004), Tale of Cinema 극장전 (2005)) as the cop's girlfriend who is terminally bored with his sex-drive, and from the remarkable BAEK Jin-hui 백진희, 21 — so good in inter-racial romance Bandhobi 반두비 (2009) — as a schoolgirl who calmly sells her panties on the internet but has hopelessly fallen for Ryu's scruffy food hawker. The ways in which Eom's English teacher cuts dead Shin's bragadaccio, and Baek's high-schooler talks more frankly about sex than her elders, are among the best moments in the film.
Lee's script doesn't even bother to supply any reasons for his characters' sexual peccadilloes — which, in a psychology-obsessed age, is refreshing but also prevents them having enough enough depth to sustain the more tender moments in the second half. Use of handheld (but not shakey) camerawork helps gives the comedy a little extra edge. The original title is simple Kringlish for Festival.
ContactSales: Showbox/Mediaplex, Seoul (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Theatrical release: South Korea, 18 Nov 2010.
Presented by Daisy Entertainment (SK). Produced by Achim Pictures (SK), Tiger Pictures (SK). Executive producer: William Kim. Producers: Lee Jeong-se, Jo Cheol-hyeon.
Script: Lee Hae-young. Photography: Jo Sang-yun. Editing: Nam Na-yeong. Music: Dalparan. Art direction: Woo Seung-mi. Costumes: Go Hui-jeong. Sound: Kim Ju-seo, Choi Tae-yeong.
Cast: Shin Ha-gyun (Gwak Jang-bae, the policeman), Eom Ji-won (Ji-su, his girlfriend), Shim Hye-jin (Ju Seon-shim, the hanbok shop owner), Seong Dong-il (Gi-bong, the hardware shop owner), Ryu Seung-bum (Choi-gang Sang-du, the fish-sausage hawker), Baek Jin-hui (Ja-hye, Seon-shim's daughter), Oh Dal-su (Kim Gwang-rok, the teacher), Choi Gwon (In-su), Mun Se-yun (Deok-gu), Jo Gyeong-suk (Gwang-rok's wife), Oh Yun-hong (flower-shop lady), Kim Tae-jong (hairdresser), Kim Ah-jung (air doll), Han Sang-jin (delivery man), Park So-hyeon.