Paju, is the name of a place everyone has heard of but don't really know. There, we see a man sharing the lot of the neglected, and the women surrounding him. Bearing the paradox of liaison...
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James Dean Bradfield,
At an all female high school, a senior of the radio club becomes fascinated with the club's newest member. As graduation nears and the summer heat rises, so does the sexual tension between the girls. (Japanese with English subtitles).
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Paju, is the name of a place everyone has heard of but don't really know. There, we see a man sharing the lot of the neglected, and the women surrounding him. Bearing the paradox of liaison in the name of love, this place creates the traces of an unknown age. Written by
Pusan International Film Festival
Melodrama, particularly romantic melodrama, is pretty much a staple of Korean cinema, but even though there are a couple of domestic incidents in Paju that are to have tragic consequences that deeply scar the lives of two people, director Park Chan-OK handles the material with a great deal more restraint than you are accustomed to see in popular Korean movies.
The first incident involves a baby in a domestic accident that occurs in similar circumstances to Lars von Trier's Antichrist (although thankfully, Paju doesn't go anywhere near that level of overwrought hysteria), and it's responsible for Kim Joong-shik (Lee Seon Gyon) leaving Seoul for a grim outlying suburb of the city called Paju. Attempting to start a new life for himself Joong-shik helps out a Christian church group and teaches a study group. He meets and marries Choi Eun-soo (Shim Yi Young), the elder sister of one of his students, Eun-mo (Seo Woo), but the family arrangement isn't a happy one, particularly for Eun-mo, who resents this new presence in her house, but all in not well either between Joong-shik and Eun-soo, the former still unable to shake off events that have happened in the past but there is another tragedy that will tear them further apart.
Essentially then, there are two lost souls here, carrying deep pain within them for the duration of the film, unable to deal with life and move on. Eun-mo is constantly running away from home, while Joong-shik becomes more radical in his political protests as an activist in a Task Force trying to prevent a housing redevelopment in Paju that will evict many of its inhabitants from their homes. Using such political undercurrents Park Chan-OK (Jealousy is my Middle Name) manages to simultaneously undercut the traditional melodrama while raising the high emotive content through other means, the non-linear narrative and passing between time-frames additionally adding to the complexity and preventing any simple judgements being reached about the characters and their motivations.
The young-actress Seo Woo looks a little inexperienced in places, but has undeniable qualities that contribute to the effectiveness of the director's technique. Demonstrating a delicate fragility she has at the same time an unpredictable edge of self-abandon to her character that has the potential to take Eun-mo, Joong-shik and indeed the film, anywhere. It's within these contradictions in her character, and the contradictions that the film plays with between melodrama and understated mood-piece that Paju functions most effectively and convincingly.
The Korean Region 3 DVD release benefits from an outstanding presentation, the film shown at a ratio of 1.85:1, which looks correct, not 2.35:1 as stated on the sleeve.
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