Rolling Home with a Bull 소와 함께 여행하는 법
Contemporary road movie
2010, colour, 1.85:1, 110 mins
Directed by Yim Soon-rye (임순례)
By Derek Elley
Sun, 26 December 2010, 16:44 PM (HKT)
Occasionally charming road movie-cum-allegory only partly fulfils its potential. Festivals.
A remote area of Kangweon province, South Korea, the present day. Amateur poet and dreamer Seon-ho (Kim Yeong-pil) works on his family's farm but is always scolded by his parents (Jeon Guk-hwan, Lee Yeong-yi) for his laziness. One day, against their wishes, he takes his bull to market but is unable to sell it at the price he wants. Seon-ho gets a call from Lee Hyeon-su (Gong Hyo-jin), his former lover who married his best friend, nicknamed "Peter", seven years ago. (The three, who called themselves "Peter, Paul and Mary", used to be the closest of friends but, when Hyeon-su married Peter, Seon-ho was devastated and hasn't had a relationship since.) Hyeon-su tells him that Peter is dead and asks him to attend the funeral - which he does, with his bull. Afterwards, when the bull feels unwell and Seon-ho's van breaks down, the two are thrown together, igniting old passions and resentments as they journey on with the bull towards Seoul.
In common with writer-director YIM Soon-rye 임순례's previous features — ensemble musicians movie Waikiki Brothers 와이키키 브라더스 (2001) and the more commercial handball drama Forever the Moment 우리 생애 최고의 순간 (2008) — Rolling Home with a Bull 소와 함께 여행하는 법 (2010) spreads its character jam a little too thinly over the dramatic bread and would have been much better at 90 rather than 110 minutes. Essentially a road movie about a man and his bull, and the former lover and Buddhist wackos he encounters on his way to Seoul, the film has a simple charm from the lead performances of KIM Yeong-pil 김영필 | 金英必 (Closer to Heaven 내 사랑 내 곁에 (2009)) as the loser-dreamer and especially GONG Hyo-jin 공효진 (Dachimawa Lee 다찌마와 리 − 악인이여 지옥행 급행열차를 타라 (2008), Crush and Blush 미쓰 홍당무 (2008)) as the gnarly onetime lover he re-meets en route.
Yim loads her story with plenty of allegorical material — the bull can stand for anthing from companionship to karma in Buddhist lore — but the script, from a novel by KIM Do-yeon 김도연, doesn't develop this potential in any dramatic or magical way. (Compare, for starters, GUAN Hu 管虎's genuinely allegorical black comedy Cow 鬥牛 (2009), or Dariush Mehrjui's 1969 Iranian classic The Cow, for man/beast bonding). In fact, the movie's strongest element is the requiem for old times and past friendships, mulled over between the two leads with plenty of drink and desperate sex in a very Korean way and reaching an emotional climax in a dreamy flashback of the trio (who called themselves "Peter, Paul and Mary") in happier times. Use of the '60s folk-singing trio's song 500 Miles and NOH Yeong-shim 노영심's warm, fretted score adds some welcome emotional warmth, and PARK Yeong-jun 박영준's Red One photography of the summertime Kangweon landscape is always attractive. The Korean title means How to Travel with a Bull.
ContactSales: Bori Pictures, Seoul (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
Premiere: Pusan Film Festival (Gala Presentation), 10 Oct 2010. Theatrical release: South Korea, 3 Nov 2010.
Produced by Bori Pictures (SK). Producer: Nam Gi-mun.
Script: Park Gyeong-hui, Yim Soon-rye. Novel: Kim Do-yeon. Photography: Park Yeong-jun. Editing: Park Gyeong-suk. Music: Noh Yeong-shim. Production design: Kim Jong-woo. Art direction: Kim Min-jeong. Sound: Seo Yeong-jun. Visual effects: Park Hui-dong.
Cast: Kim Yeong-pil (Seon-ho), Gong Hyo-jin (Lee Hyeon-su), Jeon Guk-hwan (Seon-ho's father), Lee Yeong-yi (Seon-ho's mother), Mun Chang-gil (old Buddhist man), Jo Seung-yeon (boy monk's father), Won Poong-yeon (cow auctioneer), Ahn Do-gyu (boy monk), Jo Moon-eui (policeman), Jeong Won-jo (Min-gyu), Park Hye-jin (Seon-ho's aunt), Go In-beom (veterinarian), Kim Mi-hyang (restaurant owner), Park Won-sang (man at rest area).