Time | Chicago Reader

Time

97 minutes 2006

The best films of Korean maverick Kim Ki-duk manage to keep class- and gender-based fury in an unlikely balance with pictorial lyricism, undercutting and sublimating the ugly resentment and visceral violence they contain. Unfortunately in this 2006 feature the balance has slipped, the anger has atrophied, and the pictures have become drab self-parody. In the hysterically soap-operatic plot (with its faux-clever Möbius twist), young middle-class lovers Seh-hee and Ji-woo are so perversely alienated from each other that each feels compelled to undergo plastic surgery to save their dissolving relationship, and she becomes a literally and figuratively masked other who haunts him to the point of madness. This sour psychodrama is best appreciated, if at all, as a willful exercise in arbitrary directorial bravado. In Korean with subtitles.

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