ContactSales: Mirovision, Seoul ([email protected])
Premiere: Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (World Fantastic Cinema), 17 Jul 2010. Theatrical release: South Korea, 7 Apr 2011.
Produced by Myudaenseu (SK), Apple Tree Pictures (SK). Executive producer: Baek Ho-rim. Producer: Min Byung-jin.
Script: Min Byung-jin. Adaptation: Kim Jae-hyeon, Kim Seung-hui, Kim Ji-hye. Photography: Ji Gil-ung. Editing: Lee Do-hyeon. Music: Song Jun-seok. Production design: Lee Min-a. Costumes: Mun Jang-eun. Sound: Lee Byeong-ha, Seo Yeong-jun. Action: Seo Seung-eok. Special effects: Jeong Do-in, Yu Yeong-il. Visual effects: Ryu Jae-pil.
Cast: Shin Hyeon-jun (Detective Jo Chang-shik), Jeon No-min (Jeong In-su, the father), Wang Hui-ji (Go Yeong-suk, the mother), Lee Gi-u (Detective Lee), Jeong Won-jung (Seo, section head), Jo Sang-yeon (Jeong Min-hwan, the younger son), Kim So-hyeon (Jeong Min-hui, the daughter), Park Chang-ik (Jeong Min-cheol, the elder son), Oh In-hye (Go Geum-suk, Yeong-suk's younger sister), Kim Yong-u (Detective Kim), Lee Jae-uk (Detective Mun), No Yeong-hak (Jo Gyeong-su, Chang-shik's son), Choi Jong-hun (young man in neighbourhood).
Sin of a Family 우리 이웃의 범죄
Contemporary crime mystery
2011, colour, 1.85:1, 100 mins
Directed by Min Byung-jin (민병진)
By Derek Elley
Wed, 23 March 2011, 21:24 PM (HKT)
Loosely structured murder mystery maintains interest through its unconventional approach to the genre. Genre festivals and Asian events.
Jecheon, North Chungcheong province, South Korea, the present day. The body of a boy is found in the countryside but the local police team — which includes loose-cannon Detective Jo Chang-shik (Shin Hyeon-jun) — is unable to identify the body. Two months later, when the case has already gone cold, the team identifies him by chance from a TV programme as Jeong Min-hwan (Jo Sang-yeon), the autistic younger son of taxi driver Jeong In-su (Jeon No-min) and his wife Go Yeong-suk (Wang Hui-ji), though DNA evidence appears to show that In-su was not his biological father. The family, which also includes daughter Min-hui (Kim So-yeon) and elder brother Min-cheol (Park Chang-ik), had moved away after the disappearance of Min-hwan. The father, who has since gone missing, becomes the chief suspect. Jo and younger associate Lee (Lee Gi-u) — along with Jo's problem teenage son Gyeong-su (No Yeong-hak), who has been banned from school — delve into the family's background and discover the truth about Min-hwan's birth and how the autistic child had become a destructive burden on the family. The father then reappears, but resolutely denies he was responsible for the boy's death.
It's been a long time between drinks for writer-director MIN Byung-jin 민병진, who's best known for one of the first South Korean serial-killer movies, the solidly entertaining Out of Justice 이것이 법이다 (2001), now largely forgotten except by fans of now-retired actress SHIN Eun-gyeong 신은경 (My Wife is a Gangster 조폭 마누라 (2001)). That film's slightly quirky appeal, mixing drama, comedic touches, a corkscrew plot and character interplay is found even more in Min's third feature, Sin of a Family 우리 이웃의 범죄 (2010), which starts off as almost a goofy police comedy — with some hopeless provincial cops baffled by a young boy's corpse — and slowly evolves into a more serious drama. Such mood switches are nothing special in South Korean crime movies; what's more interesting is that the case is not so much solved by the detectives themselves as unravelled for the audience through a series of flashbacks.
Based on a real-life 2003 case, Min's script sets up the main character of loose-cannon detective Jo — nicely played by beaky-nosed SHIN Hyeon-jun 신현준 (Bichunmoo 비천무 (2000), Barefoot Gi-Bong 맨발의 기봉이 (2006), returning after a career dip — who drinks too much, has a delinquent teenage son, and has been denied promotion for 15 years due to his lackadaisical attitude. After playing the character for some early laughs, the script then parallels the relationship between Jo and his son with that between the dead boy and his parents (as revealed in flashbacks). As Jo comes closer to his son as they're thrown together on the case, so Jo also comes closer to solving the central riddle of the dead boy's murder.
It's a fragile frame for a crime mystery but the film's loose, non-procedural structure — which blithely takes time out for humorous diversions like Jo being hit on by a gay witness — maintains interest as the story gradually comes together. Sin of a Family is effectively an anti-genre movie: there are no action sequences, no guns, and the police are not in the driving seat, and though Jo finally stumbles on the missing piece of the puzzle, the case has essentially wrapped itself up by then and justice taken its course.
Shot under a title that translated as Family Portrait, the movie has strong performances from all five of the central family's actors, especially TV drama actress WANG Hui-ji 왕희지 as the long-suffering young mother to the autistic murder victim. The other detectives in the investigating team are also relaxedly drawn, with male pin-up LEE Gi-u 이기우 (Tale of Cinema 극장전 (2005), Lost & Found 달콤한 거짓말 (2008)) playing against type as Jo's young sidekick who's all in favour of beating up suspects.
The film's final title roughly means Crime in Our Neighbourhood.