Saturday, August 08, 2009

[Korean Film Festival] Dream (Bi-Mong)

We Dream of Each Other

Someone mentioned to me once that the films by Kim Ki-duk is like an acquired taste. Personally I had not taken that advice and dove into the deep end, only to find myself stuck in a confluence of mixed feelings, where some of the films had excited, others had disappointed going nowhere, though you must admit that there are always plenty of imagery in his films to admire, and a premise like none other.

Within the first 20 minutes, we get introduced to the main characters, and the interesting, though weird premise that they find themselves in. Jo Odagiri stars as Jin, a man who often finds himself dreaming about some very vivid events, then out of curiosity one day, he visits an accident site that he dreamt about, and lo and behold, the exact same situation that he had seen subconsciously.

His curiosity led him to dig further, and here he comes across Ren (Lee Na-yeong), a woman who sleepwalks. In more bizarre terms, Jin soon realizes that whatever he dreams of, Ren somehow will sleepwalk and execute it on his behalf, in real time. Hence the stage is set for this fantastical movie, where a couple find themselves having power over each other, and made more acute when they discover that perhaps their respective ex-lovers have got a part to play in their predicament as well.

You'd come to expect that perhaps Jin and Ren would fall for each other, and this was even suggested at, but of course Kim Ki-duk would never go for the plain and ordinary. Instead he skews this potential love story into something more intense, and comical even especially when the couple try their very best not to fall asleep, one to prevent executing things against her wishes, while the other not wanting to impose his will onto another.

Alas the ingredients that went into the film turned out to be not my taste. Everything went really weird especially when Kim settled for some gory moments of imagery to continue his story, some of which are squeamish enough to want to make you shut your eye from the nightmare. Also, having Jo Odagiri speak in Japanese throughout, and the only character to do so, seemed too strange as well, where everyone else was speaking in Korean. I suppose like Kim's earlier film in casting Chang Chen resulted in his character being mute, was nothing more than overcoming a technical challenge in making the actors speak the Korean language. Straddling the thin line between reality and fantasy would have afforded a tale told in this manner, but certainly this wasn't my cup of tea.

The Closing Film of this year's Korean Film Festival, those in attendance will attest to bewildered voices whispering sighs of disapproval and sniggering at how ridiculous the film had unravelled itself into. I suppose if not for Jo Odagiri's role, many would have not batted an eyelid at yet another Kim Ki-duk offering for the masses. Was I disappointed? Yes, as the film could have been much more rather than a self-indulgent movie.

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