On a fishing boat at sea, a 60-year old man has been raising a girl since she was a baby. It is agreed that they will get married on her 17th birthday, and she is 16 now. They live a quiet and secluded life, renting the boat to day fishermen and practicing strange divination rites. Their life changes when a teenage student comes aboard...
Jae-Young is an amateur prostitute who sleeps with men while her best friend Yeo-Jin "manages" her, fixing dates, taking care of the money and making sure the coast is clear. When Jae-Young... See full summary »
At South Korea's border with the North, troops guard the coast. Each bullies those ranking beneath him; tensions are high. PFC Kang and his friend Private Kim are on patrol when drinking ... See full summary »
Romances end in blood and the frail hopes of individuals are torn apart in a vile karmic continuity of colonialism, civil war and occupation. After surviving Japanese colonization, Korea ... See full summary »
Two Korean ex-pats meet in Paris by chance encounter. One a petty thief and wannabe artist/painter (Chong-Hae), the other a tough guy (Hong San). Hong San saves Chong-Hae from a gang of ... See full summary »
This is the third film I have seen by Kim Ki-duk. Each one has been very different to the other, and I have loved them all. Address Unknown was bleak and emotionally challenging, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring was beautifully poetic, while Breath is hard to describe. It has aspects of the earlier films - it's visually poetic and bleak - but it's very different to both most notably for its surreal/absurdist devices combined with very black humour (slightly reminiscent of some of the work of Raúl Ruiz).
Sparse dialogue makes for great intrigue as we attempt to make sense of the two main protagonists and what they have in common. One, a man on death row, the other a suburban mother who follows news of his exploits on the TV. To discuss how the story unfolds is to spoil the film if you haven't watched it. However, the story is so elusive, that even with the details, much remains unexplained, adding to the mystique of the film. The prisoner does not speak during the film and the mother does not speak to her family; she is on screen for about twenty minutes before we hear a word uttered from her mouth.
There is a really competent and confident film-maker at work in Kim Ki-duk, and he's not afraid to experiment. Beautifully photographed in winter, the use of steel/blue tones indoors accentuates the sense of cold and contrasts some of the surreal aspects. The film is contemplative, giving one ample opportunity to appreciate the superb visual aesthetics and make sense of the narrative.
I enjoyed this film immensely, and highly recommend it. It screened as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival, where Kim Ki-duk's films are always well-received.
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