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The cellist and teacher Mi-Ju Hong is invited by her colleague and friend Sun-Ae to assume the position of professor in her renowned institution, and gives an invitation to the concert of Hae-Young Kim, the little sister of her former school best friend Tae-Yeon Kim who died in a car accident. Before leaving the building, she is threatened by a former student that failed in her test. While driving home, she escapes from an accident on the road and once at home, she has a surprise birthday party with her husband and prosecutor Jun-Ki, her daughters the slow Yoon-Jin and the young Yoon-Hye Song, and her sister-in-law Kyung Ran, whose fiancée is in Manhattan in a MBA course. On the next morning, her husband hires the dumb housekeeper Ji-Sook, a very weird woman. While shopping with Yoon-Jin, the girl is fascinated in a cello and Mi-Ju buys the instrument. After the mysterious death of her dog Sunny, creepy events happen with Mi-Ju, jeopardizing her family, while she insistently listens ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The best horror/cello flick I've seen since, um...
First things first. The box for "Cello" has some of the most bad-ass cover art I've ever seen. It's sexy, bloody and instantly makes my wonder how the hell a horror flick can revolve around a cello. Quite honestly, I'm burning myself out when it comes to foreign horror. They're quickly becoming my favorite sub-genre, but man, do I miss the days when I didn't have to read or think so much. I'm actually becoming smarter watching horror movies and that's scarier then the films themselves. Moving on "Cello" is about (what else?) a young cellist by the name of Mi-ju (Sung Hyun-Ah), who holds herself responsible for killing her best friend in a car accident. Fast-forward a few years later and Mi-Ju's life is finally back-on-track, or at least close to it. She has two beautiful children, a loving husband, a big house, a decent teaching career and a small waistline. She's got it all - too good to be true right? You bet your ass it is. Before you can fart out last night's dinner, Mi-ju's world begins to fall apart. Her students are constantly screwing with her, her sister's going crazy, terrible nightmares plague her sleep and her oldest daughter is becoming a human vegetable. Hey! - at least her waistline is stable. So is all this a coincidence? Probably not. Is a bitter spirit from the past coming back to seek revenge? Probably. What did she expect? Even in purgatory, the chick is still removing pieces of windshield from her face. Hopefully her tits didn't get hacked up too bad.
The opening of "Cello" embodies everything I love about Asian cinema. We have a beautiful girl sitting in her bedroom playing the cello, sliding the bow across the strings producing a beautiful melody. The camera slowly moves around the room, changing the focus between the foreground and background. Sounds peaceful right? Well, almost immediately we cut to a woman in an emergency room covered in blood. We see that she has been in some sort of accident and the doctors are struggling to save her from her already-decided fate. These shots are realistic and downright disturbing. It's funny; I can watch Jason Voorhees hack through a bloody plethora of terror-filled teenagers, but when the people are in a realistic situation, like a car accident, it's far worse to watch. Oddly enough, it's also very beautiful in a morbid sort of way. Asian films always seem to accomplish this and I'm very drawn to that.
Because of the dark, eerie cover art I just assumed that "Cello" was going to be a ninety-minute spook fest, very much in the tradition of Ju-On and Ringu. Man, was I was wrong! Director Woo-cheol Lee chose to focus more on story and character then the scares. (Uh-oh there goes half the audience.) At first this was disappointing to me but of course like with most Asian cinema - when all is said and done, the story development pays off in the end.
I was also surprised how non-atmospheric and bright "Cello" was. Most Asian flicks require a heavy-duty flashlight for viewing but not "Cello." A good portion of the film takes place during the day and if it's after-dark, then the characters are inside in well-lit rooms. They seem to be much 'brighter' than normal, too. We see them dressed in bright colors, joke around, dance and laugh. Basically act like regular people. This was such a refreshing change from the usual dark, gloomy characters that populate most Asian films.
The only qualm I had was with the pacing. Like I said, when the end credits started rolling I felt satisfied, but it was a slow ride at times. I was going to rate this flick a little lower because of this, but as I sat down to write the review I just kept thinking of several key sequences that really impressed me, the final shot of the film being one of them. I think with a higher scare factor "Cello" could have been one of my favorites. I really enjoyed this one.
Overall, I think most people will like "Cello." It's the classic Asian approach. You have a lot of story development, which can be slow at times and of course, an ending that will no doubt spark conversation. If you enjoy these types of films then you'll most definitely like this one. If you don't, then you probably won't. If you're new to Asian cinema, then I highly recommend you check out "Cello." It's a great introduction to the genre.
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