30 December 2011 | MartinTeller
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.