A conscious exploration of fantasy and flesh. The director talks about the novel upon which the film is based, we see the crew at work, the actors talk about what's going on. Y, a ...
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A conscious exploration of fantasy and flesh. The director talks about the novel upon which the film is based, we see the crew at work, the actors talk about what's going on. Y, a schoolgirl of 18, chooses her first lover (rather than wait to be raped, as were her two older sisters). After phone sex with J, a sculptor who's 38, they begin an affair that, by the second meeting, includes spankings as foreplay. J brings a suitcase full of rods, hoses, and wires; Y gathers sticks to bring. Y's brother discovers the affair. J's wife, studying in Paris, calls him to join her. Will the lovers part? Will the violence get out of hand? When do the lies begin?Written by
I was at first disgusted with director Sun-Woo Jang because I had felt that he cheated me. Jang had the potential to create a strong, deeply emotional film about sex and its effects on people, but instead chose to focus his strength on the pornography element more than the actual human element. I couldn't see the characters at first and his sloppy introduction which blended both realism and cinema together was amateurish at best yet this film remained in my mind for days after I viewed it. What stayed with me wasn't the story, it wasn't the characters, nor was it the apparent pornographic nature of the film, but the transition that Jang demonstrated between Y and J. If you watch this film carefully, you will see that both begin in an exploration phase of their relationship, eager to jump into the unknown, but not quite certain the next step. As they continue to meet, exploring new avenues of pleasure, they continually jump between the aggressor and the aggressed. Jang initially explores the idea that J is the one that in control of the situation, then hauntingly, the reversal happens when J becomes obsessed with Y. It is a very small change, and due to the graphic content of this film, it can easily be missed, but it is there. It becomes apparently clear near the end when J cannot live with Y, as their meetings become less frequent, and J attempts to become a part of normal society. This was a huge and very exciting element to this film to see right before your eyes, but alas, it was the only element of this film worth viewing.
I will ignore those that speak of this film as nothing more than pornographic, because there are human elements at the core of this film, as underdeveloped as they are, they are there. It is a film about a facet of our lives that is very rarely explored in cinema or talked about in the papers. What happens behind closed doors is never known or so we should believe. While the act itself does becomes repetitive after a bit, director Jang tries to change it up a bit with some constantly changing scenery. Our characters are continually moving from hotel room to hotel room to best quench their thirst for each other's flesh. This is fun at first, but again, Jang's repetitive streak seems to make it feel boring than exciting. This leads me to the biggest issue that I had with this film. Jang had a great story with Gojitmal, but where he failed (outside of the obvious choice to focus directly on the pornographic side) was that he took scenes, repeated them time and again, without changing in front of us to allow us to get to know the characters. Where was Jang going with this movie? Did he want the sex to tell the stories, or did he believe the characters would? He failed in this sense because by the end of the film we know so little about Y and J that we could care less how they resolve themselves. The ending seems almost random at best as Jang attempts to create a final resolution for our two, absolute unknowns, of this film. I have to give Jang some credit for trying, but not much. He attempted to create some sub-stories that would create the personal element that we were lacking, but they just couldn't congeal well together. Y's brother and J's wife were those plot points, but again, due to him focusing so strongly on the sexual element, these stronger sub-stories became un-rememberable and down-right dull. Maybe it was just how I viewed this film, but outside of the sexual scenes, nothing else worked together. We knew nothing about J and Y and that is why Gojitmal failed.
Finally, I would like to say that this film could have benefited from having a strong score or a daftly remote music genre element to it to bring us, the viewers, closer to the emotions being felt by J and Y. From what I can remember, and I am trying to push this film far from my mind, I don't remember any musical undertones. Gojitmal may have been a stronger film if Jang either stylized it with music or done something to allude towards our character's beings. While I understand that he wanted the sex to speak for itself, there was just a technical element missing from this film that may have quenched a stronger desire for more. Technically, this was a poor film. Obviously an independent film in nature, it felt more like director Jang was trying to make symbolic references out of nothing instead of your typical independent of this nature. I didn't see as much of a social message or human element like mentioned above, I just felt like he threw this film together over the course of two weeks and understood that the sex would sell it enough. This was no Larry Clark production; this was sub-par and definitely needed some further technical clicks to develop it stronger than the final release!
Overall, I think I could have liked this film and there were smaller elements that I did enjoy, but I felt this film was rushed, repetitive, and played too much towards the taboos instead of breaking them. The obvious pitfalls of this film can be seen by the last scene of this film when we are privy to how the title of this film was conceived. Our characters were uneventful, our story was underdeveloped, and we could have used something memorable to make what was happening between Y and J into something more symbolic than sex. To me, Jang was trying too much to capture art house meets pornographic and it failed miserably. This was not a film worth the time and effort that it took to make.
Grade: ** out of *****
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