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Jun (Paul Lee) is an illegal immigrant from North Korea, working in a gas station under an exploitative and abusive boss. Hyeon (Yeom Hyunjoon) is the kept boy of a married businessman, who has set him up in a swanky apartment near the government's headquarters in Yeouido. Both young men are in trouble. Jun's lack of an official identity and papers limits him to dead-end jobs (the gas station, handing out flyers, and eventually male prostitution) and leaves him always in fear of arrest and deportation. Hyeon, who is supposed to be available whenever his sugar daddy "needs" him, stifles in his up-market "prison". These two finally find each other through an Internet site, with disastrous results. The sudden convergence of their opposite lives gives Kim the cues he needs for a series of reflections on the implications of "statelessness". Written by
Saw the film at Febiofest's Another Shore program (a gay and lesbian film section), a latest South Korean drama reflects the society's hindrance towards the young generation.
The film has a mesmerizing spell on its stern and artsy-indie feel (almost 120 minutes screening time is a sign), narrating two individual stories of two boys' polarized but equally paradoxic situation of survival and inevitably delving in a dreamlike eventual paragraph to merge both characters into a perplexing denouement with an overdone death legerdemain.
Sometimes ostentatious, sometimes intriguing, sometimes verbose, sometimes dizzily dazzling, the film is a cocktail of illegal immigrants, menial working-condition, prostitution, gay-man-in-the-closet conundrum, all are regulated in a mixed bag, with an undercurrent of graphic gay sex part as the tardy gambit.
The cinematography work is a commendable completion, noteworthy is the chimerical part after the title (a much-delayed presence near the two thirds of the running time), grayish, grainy haziness infuses the entire screen, aggravating the dubious identity-split obscurity.
The cast is precisely chosen, discharges an austere and unvarnished rawness thanks to the tensile strength from an unknown cast, a sterling gay sex scene is graphic and provocative to defy all the moral bottom-line. The backfire is that some matter-of-the-fact shootings are redundant, e.g. the stirring SM action of a prostitute, the tourist-fawned sight-seeing visiting, and a fixation of a prolonged long-shot of the North Korean boy walking rapidly on the street, which are all overcooked.
About the hypnotic and bewildering end, director Kim Kyung-Mook cunningly leaves a multi- interpretation for the audiences, it's a non sequitur cul-de-sac, the real world could be much crueler than one could anticipate, we all need some post-mortem rumination about the younger generations' status quo.
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