When her husband passes away in an automobile accident,Shin-ae relocates down south to her late husband's hometown of Miryang. Despite her efforts to settle down, in this unfamiliar and "much too normal place, she finds that she can't quite fit in. Helping her out is Kim Jong-chan, a good-intentioned but bothersome bachelor, who owns a car repair shop. Life plods on. However, fate takes a vicious turn when Shin-ae loses her son in the most horrific way a mother could imagine. She turns to Christianity to relieve the pain in her heart, but when even this is not permitted, she wages a war against God.Written by
When I saw Lee Chang-dong's OASIS, my main problem with it was that the characters seemed calculated to behave in unexpected ways. Here, I have the same problem, but in reverse. After the pivotal moment of the film, everything that Shin-ae did made me think, "Oh, she's going to do THAT now?". It felt like someone running down a checklist of various reactions to grief, predictable, no surprises, no real insight. I didn't even really think Jeon Do-yeon's performance was that great, despite all the accolades. She does have her moments (the scene at the prison is a brilliant piece of facial expression) but other times I cringed a bit. I did like the relationship with the eager mechanic (Song Kang-ho, who seems to pop up in about half the Korean movies I watch) and also the teenage girl. And I liked how even-handed Lee is in his approach to religion, and how the film spends some time with that subject and then moves on. But mostly my reaction was merely lukewarm. Other people whose opinions I respect really like Lee's work, but I'm afraid I haven't found the appeal yet.
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