Tag Archives: Yoon Se-ah

Bluebeard (2017, Lee Soo-youn)

Bluebeard runs just under two hours. The last forty-five minutes of it basically undo–or seem to undo–everything in the first seventy-five minutes. Writer and director Lee doesn’t want to answer the questions the film’s mysteries raise, but reveal entirely new mysteries with entirely new answers. With some exception.

It’s a shame, because until that point–and there’s a very definite point when Bluebeard jumps off the track–it’s a rather outstanding thriller.

Down on his luck, recently divorced doctor Jo Jin-woong moves into a crummy little apartment and discovers his landlords might be infamous serial killers. He’s not entirely sure about it, but more and more evidence comes to light, whether he pokes around or not.

Lee composes these wide shots, with fantastic photography by Uhm Hye-jung, where Jo finds himself reluctantly finding out more and more. Especially when one of the landlords, Kim Dae-myung, starts buddying up with him. There’s this palable danger, which Kim Sun-min’s editing helps with immensely.

It’s just a shame Lee’s script is, after that seventy-five minute mark, nothing but a combination of trite, predictable, and manipulative. Not even Kim Sun-min’s editing withstands the film’s plummet in quality. Uhm’s photography weathers it, though Lee’s composition quickly fails. There’s the first directing approach, the second directing approach, then an even more narratively ill-advised third approach. Stylistically, the second approach is bad. The composition, even Lee’s direction of the actors, which had previously been fine, everything goes. All of the newly introduced script elements, which simultaneously try to surprise and reveal, are a mess. Had Lee paced out reveals better, it might have helped. Probably not, just because all the reveals are inane, but at least Bluebeard wouldn’t immediately lose it’s momentum.

The script failures even drag down Jo, who’s excellent when Bluebeard is actually suspenseful and not a trite thriller. Similarly, the narrative eventually trashes everyone else’s performance, though Kim Dae-myung’s okay enough throughout. Lee Chung-ah suffers the most (besides Jo, of course).

It’s a shame Bluebeard doesn’t deliver on any of its many promises, though it could be a lot worse. Lee has many worse instincts and impulses, she forecasts them throughout the picture. After almost forty minutes of the film hemorrhaging goodwill and good ideas, Lee throws on an epilogue sequence in way of a bandage. It does slow the bleeding, but it can’t stop it, much less seal any of Lee’s later incisions.

Bluebeard shouldn’t just be better, it should be good. For more than half its runtime, it’s good; then Lee decides to flush it all for some manipulative, ostentatious reveals. She can’t direct them or write them, the actors can’t act her script, and Kim Sun-min can’t cut them into good scenes.

The film ends up a race to end before completely imploding.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Written and directed by Lee Soo-yeon; director of photography, Uhm Hye-jung; edited by Kim Sun-min; music by Jeong Yong-jin; production designer, Lee Soon-sung; produced by Cho Jeong-jun; released by Lotte Entertainment.

Starring Jo Jin-woong (Seung-hoon), Kim Dae-Myung (Sung-geun), Lee Chung-ah (Mi-yeon), Yoon Se-ah (Soo-jung), Shin Goo (Sung-geun’s Father), and Song Young-chang (Jo Kyung-hwan).


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Doomsday Book (2012, Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung)

Doomsday Book is three stories about the end of the world. There’s no connection between the stories except the directors; the tone changes wildly between all three.

The first story is a zombie tale with some humor, some religious allegory and some gore. There are a lot of Romero references in it and also the most dynamic lead performance… for a while at least. Ryu Seung-beom plays an unlucky, very sympathetic guy who unknowingly brings about the end of the world. Yim’s direction is good; there’s a mix of absurd humor, romance, horror and large scale destruction.

The second story, from Kim Ji-woon, is very different. Kim Kang-woo plays a robot technician who finds himself conflicted about reporting an sentient robot as defective or not. As a protagonist, Kim Kang-woo is indistinct but it serves the piece. Kim Gyu-ri plays one of the robot’s friends and director Kim Ji-woon beautifully juxtaposes the two characters’ experiences in a small span of time. The ending, which is as “seriously” profound as Doomsday gets, is excellent.

The third story is also profound, but incredibly absurd. Yim is directing again as a meteor approaches the earth and a family tries to prepare for the end. The script’s the strongest element here, with Yim able to make the hilariously absurd real. It’s a delightful mix of Hitchhiker’s and Vonnegut.

Obviously, Doomsday succeeds because of its directors, but getting the downer out of the way first probably helps a bit.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung; screenplay by Yim, Lee Hwan-hee, Kim Ji-woon and Jang Jong-ah, based in part on a stories by Park Seong-hwan and Park Su-min; directors of photography, Ha Sung-min, Kim Ji-yong and Jo Sang-yoon; edited by Im Seon-gyeong, Mun Se-gyeong and Nam Na-yeong; music by Mowg; produced by Choi Hyeon-muk, Kim Myeong-eun and Oh Yeong-hun; released by Lotte Entertainment.

Starring Ryu Seung-beom (Yoon Seok-woo), Ko Jun-hee (Kim Yoo-min), Kim Kang-woo (Park Do-won), Kim Gyu-ri (Hye-joo), Jin Ji-hee (Park Min-seo), Song Young-chang (Kang Seong-cheol), Kim Seo-hyeong (Min Yu-na), Lee Seung-jun (Min-seo’s father), Yoon Se-ah (Min-seo’s mother), Song Sae-byok (Min-seo’s uncle), Jo Yun-hie (Ji-eun) and Park Hae-il (In-myoung).


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