Daughter of the Flames | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Daughter of the Flames

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This week Facets Cinematheque and the Chicago Humanities Festival present a retrospective of films by Korean director Im Kwon-taek, who will lecture on Saturday, November 9, as part of the festival. Like Japanese masters Kenji Mizoguchi and Akira Kurosawa, Im has set his films in both the feudal past (Chihwaseon, his latest release) and the Westernized present (Gilsottum), yet even in some of his contemporary dramas the characters are spellbound by tradition and obsessed with a national identity that's been eroded by waves of colonials. In this 1983 feature a reporter who has married into a prosperous Christian household is haunted by visions of his young mother, who gave him away when he was a boy, being engulfed by flames. Unable to overcome his trauma through psychoanalysis, he returns to his native village, where his mother had been ostracized for being an exorcist, and as he's exposed to shamanistic rituals and the recollections of her lovers, he undergoes a spiritual awakening and learns to appreciate her lust for life. Im's sharp psychological insight is complemented by a keen sense of time and place, contrasting the primordial coastal landscape with the modern comforts of the hero's urban home. In Korean with subtitles. 108 min. Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, Saturday, November 2, 8:45, 773-281-4114.

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