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Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (2000)
"Oh! Soo-jung" (original title)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 799 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 15 critic

Relationship filled with pitfalls between a pleasant female video producer and a gallery owner as they become embroiled in their self-spun web of illusions. Bitter-sweet serenade to modern courtship.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Eun-ju Lee ...
Soo-jung
Seong-kun Mun ...
Young-soo
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Won-hee Cho
Myeong-gu Han
Jeong Ho-Bong
Lee Hwang-Ui
Bo-seok Jeong ...
Jae-hoon
Yeong-dae Kim
Mi-hyeon Park
Cho Ryeon
Mi-jung Song
Seon Yu ...
(as Yu-Seon Wang)
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Storyline

A young man arrives at a hotel for an assignation; she calls to say she's not coming. He is Jae-hoon, she is Soo-jung; they've met through Young-soo, an independent filmmaker. Soo-jung writes for Young-soo; Jae-hoon may finance his film project. From varying points of view in two long parallel flashbacks, we see what precedes the hotel date. Details differ, and each account includes events missing from the other. Characters are quiet and self-contained, then animated; victims apologize. Each character frequently asks, "Really?" What has really happened? Is one account more accurate? Is a kiss the most enjoyable and promising human contact? Connections are tenuous and fragile. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

27 May 2000 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last Sang-soo Hong film to use a traditional script. See more »

Connections

References The Untouchables (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful and thoughtful
20 November 2006 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Wealthy art gallery owner Jae-hoon (Jeong Bo-seok) waits in a hotel room to have sex with screenwriter Soo-jung (Lee Eun-ju). She phones, however, and claims to be running late and expresses some doubts about consummating their relationship. Later, the scene is replayed but from Soo-jung's point of view with a different result. With its title derived from a surreal artwork by Marcel Duchamp titled "The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors", Hong Sang-soo's elliptical comedy drama A Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors is a process of discovery for both the characters and the viewer. Whether the theme is viewed as the subjectivity of memory or how our perceptions change with each new event, Hong strips away the illusion from romantic love and allows us to see how ambivalent we all may be beyond our idealization.

The film is divided into five parts, each chapter introduced by enigmatic titles such as "Perhaps Intention", "Perhaps Coincidence", and "Perhaps Accident", and separated by a fade to black, reminiscent of Jim Jarmusch's Stranger in Paradise. The first, third, and fifth parts take place in the present; the second and fourth parts show the history of the couple from their first encounter to the present and reflect the characters' different perceptions/memories. The chapter "Perhaps by Accident" seems to describe Jae-hoon as one who believes that reality is controlled by fate. "Perhaps Intention" describes the assumptions of Soo-jung who makes her decisions based on her assessment of men's true motives and values, judging them by their actions not their words.

From the outset, the film's narrative appears to be linear as it traces a love triangle that develops between Jae-hoon, Soo-jung and Young-soo, an independent filmmaker. The characters are very real and their desires and frustrations are palpable. However, halfway through, the film begins to repeat episodes from earlier chapters which are dramatized from a different perspective and show slight variations in detail. The second chapter is a flashback to the couple's first meeting. Filmmaker Young-soo (Moon Seong-keun) attends an exhibition at Jae-hoon's art gallery with Soo-jung to gain some inspiration for the film they are working on. The two agree to have lunch with Jae-hoon, perhaps to persuade the wealthy gallery owner to provide some financial backing for the film.

A few days later, when Jae-hoon meets Soo-jung at Kyongbokgoong Palace, he discovers that she has a pair of gloves that he accidentally left on a bench and believes the incident to be very much a coincidence. When the incident is dramatized the second time, however, it appears that Soo-jung has intentionally scheduled the film crew to meet on the Palace grounds because she knows that Jae-hoon goes there for lunch. Jae-hoon becomes attracted to Soo-jung and asks her to have sex with him and become her lover. She tells him that she will accept his offer but only when they go out for a drink. The sex scenes are erotic but not graphic and reveal the lovers' emotional pain lying just beneath the surface.

Enhanced by an exquisite original score by OK Kil-sung and the striking black and white cinematography of Choi Yeong-taek, Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors is a beautiful and thoughtful film whose concluding epiphany left me with a lovely glow. Sadly, however, the glow was short lived as I soon discovered that on the night of February 22, 2005, Lee Eun-ju committed suicide at her apartment only a few days after graduating from Dankook University. She was only 24 years old. The memory of her great performance in this outstanding film will long remain.


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