A public accountant's salary is far too small for him to even get a cavity fixed, let alone support his family. However, he must somehow provide for his senile, shell-shocked mother, his ... See full summary »
A public accountant's salary is far too small for him to even get a cavity fixed, let alone support his family. However, he must somehow provide for his senile, shell-shocked mother, his malnurished, pregnant wife, a younger brother who won't work, his unmarried sister who is prostituting herself to foreigners for extra money, and two young children. Written by
Another film from post-war Korea, Obaltan is the story of two brothers, war veterans. One is working a dead-end job at an accounting firm, providing his meager earnings to support his family.? The other is jobless and not really searching, opting to spend his days with his friends drinking.
This film is depressing and it drives slowly towards its conclusion. On the other hand, compared to the often over-the-top melodrama present in other films I've seen from the era, Obaltan is a stark contrast. Owing more to Italian Neorealism than Hollywood, the film has many moments of mundaneness and potentially existentialist commentary. That Obaltan means "the aimless bullet" should give that away from the start.
But it is surprisingly powerful and I found myself remembering my own depression as a result of it--the sense of hopelessness and helplessness mixed with a strong desire to escape. It's as the crazy grandmother character in the film says over and over, "Let's get out of here!" The print that we had was sometimes poor in quality and missing a few frames here and there, the subtitles were a little bit ridiculous at times and sometimes entirely missed the dialogue. But it was a rare chance to see Seoul after the Korean War, complete with some rubble, barbed wire and bullet holes.
Good stuff, but not recommended for those without patience (because of the slow-paced nature of the film) and that like happy or even bittersweet endings. This one just lays the smack down and leaves you crying on the ground. Otherwise, go for it. 8/10.
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