Friday, 18 July 2008
I went to the cinema to see this, as you would. But this was the first film i've seen in a classroom which was pretending to be a cinema theatre. Yes, there were classroom-style chairs, a pull-down screen and light streaming through the gaps around the window blinds. It was being shown in "Showroom 5", according to a reluctant member of staff, because the film company Tartan has gone into receivership and they couldn't get a print, so they were showing the DVD instead. And indeed, there was the DVD's selection screen with looped soundtrack and clips from the film. They could have shown us the DVD extras if they wanted to! The whole strange situation affected the whole audience, and made for an excited, relaxed and chatty atmosphere. I just wish the seats had been more comfortable...
Tartan Films, RIP
Anyway, onto the film itself!
The film's heroine, Young-goon starts off life with her mentally unstable grandmother, who thinks she's a mouse and so eats radishes and stinks up the air... Granny is cruelly torn away from Young-goon to a psychiatric hospital and this event shatters Young-goon's own mind. She starts to think she's a cyborg, devoid of emotion, and an accident (she tried to charge herself up via the mains electricity) leads her to being admitted to a psychiatric hospital too.
The film is very funny and tragically sad in turns. Mental illness is manifested in this film as bizarrely humourous behaviour and beliefs, such as the beautifully-illustrated, albeit imaginary book of 7 deadly sins for cyborgs which Young-goon tries to live by ("no sympathy"). The way the film seemed to glamourise mental illness did make me wonder whether we should be finding the various events funny. Like how Young-goon didn't eat because she believed it would harm her machine organs, which brought her to the point of starving to death; the girl who could only look at people in a mirror; and the man who thought that everybody's misfortunes were all his fault and spent his days apologising. But this was made like a fantasy, and with a fantasy you tend to forgive a lot of inaccuracies and artistic licence. And if we didn't laugh, we'd cry, perhaps...
Plenty of attention has been paid to the look of the film, with some entertaining special effects and eyecandy supplied by Young-goon, played by Im Su-jeong and Il Sun (played by pop star-turned-actor Rain).
A slightly disturbing but delightful confection of a film.
Watch the trailer with English subtitles: YouTube English Trailer