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Pluto is a story of the extremes elite high school seniors are prepared to go to guarantee entry into prestigious universities, and asks what could possibly turn an innocent boy into a monster. June, a transfer student into an elite school, is driven to despair by the year's first examination results. One day he discovers that a mysterious clique of fellow students are sharing secret notebooks, which contain important exam information. In order to get his hands on the notebooks he begs the members of the secret circle to include him. They task him with a series of missions to earn them, turning June into a monster in the process. Written by
This downbeat South Korean school drama reminded me somewhat of another film from that country, the animated movie The King of Pigs (2011). Both those films dealt specifically with the themes of bullying and the privileged cliques that exist in the South Korean school system. In this one it looks unfavourably at the system of ranking students, creating different classes of pupils; the film considers the possible violent outcome of this type of rigid system and the way that it can be manipulated by the students themselves. The story begins with the murder of a boy by an unknown assassin. Blame quickly falls on another boy whose phone was found at the scene of the crime. He is released and quickly entraps several of his school mates and from here the story alternates between the present and extended flash-backs that slowly unveil how we got to this situation.
This is a pretty gloomy film with no humour. It's title derives from the fact that the main character identifies with Pluto which was outcast as a planet because it was the wrong shape and too far removed from the central Sun. He himself feels like an outcast and is a loner who wishes to be part of the privileged group. It's no coincidence that events in the story are designed to culminate at the point of a total solar eclipse, the very moment the Sun is blocked out; the very moment the core group is wiped out. In truth, the set-up has more potential than is ultimately delivered. The central secrets of the story are not especially surprising and it does maybe lack a certain emotional core. Because of this it's difficult emphasising with the characters and caring all that much as to what happens to them. Still, it's a very well-acted film indeed and the cinematography is very fine with plenty of shots that capture the geometric almost prison-like shape of the school.
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