Saturday, November 18, 2006

Time (Shi Gan)

So Who's A Pretty Face?

The most widely read review of mine is The Intimate (Aien), starring Sung Hyun-Ah. So I think fans of her from the show will not want to miss this movie by Kim Ki-Duk, also starring the same actress. While The Intimate was more, erm, intimate (I labelled it as Serendipity with loads of sex), fans of hers shouldn't be put off by this Kim Ki-Duk movie. I must admit I haven't hunted down the other movies that he's done - this marks his 13th feature film, and my other exposure to his works were 3-Iron and The Bow. While I enjoyed the two I mentioned, this one takes the cake.

Korea is perhaps also famously known for its number of female population going under the knife to look good. I've been to a number of Korean cities, and yes, they are gorgeous. But there's always that skeptical doubt hanging over their heads, whether they had undergone plastic surgery to enhance their various assets. That, is the subject of which Time touches upon.

Seh Hee (Park Ji-Yeon) and Ji Woo (Ha Jung-Woo) are a couple, and coupledom is always disastrous when one party is paranoid with suspicion over the other being unfaithful. A longer than usual glance at another pretty face, or a kind gesture to help a gorgeous person, will bring on alarm bells, violent exchange of words, and an inexplicable bad attitude and demeanour towards others. That's how Seh Hee behaves, and I suppose those who suffer from low self-esteem and confidence, would probably exhibit one or many of the traits put forth.


And it is indeed these triats that will put any relationship under strain, with unreasonableness being the number one reaction felt by the other party. Unconfident about her looks, Suh Hee goes under the plastic surgeon's knife and in certain aspects, starts to tease her ex boyfriend Ji Woo, whom she left abruptly 6 months back in a huff and without explanation, with her new physical self (in the form of Sung Hyun-Ah).

While Ji Woo is being confronted with the shock of being left all alone, and his inability to forget Seh Hee, what do you expect from a man who loves someone so deeply, yet she suddenly disappears from your life with nary a word? And how will you react when faced with the "truth"?



Perhaps the message in the movie is about the importance of looks, or the perceived emphasis placed on physical attractiveness. It isn't enough to just look good (when different), and the psychological change, that you now have the opportunity to be someone different, is just as, if not more important and this aspect of well being has to be looked after as well. Watching this movie brings about some comparison of storylines and the differing techniques used to carve out a new life, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In Eternal, one becomes somebody new by undergoing a science fictional transformation with the wiping of memories from the mind. It's psychological, and the technology not here yet. With Time, it involves the transformation of the physical, with technology already ready and very sophisticated in
technique. And that's what makes it quite scary, barring the gory introductory scene.

I could literaly transform my face into something else, and thereafter, with the severing of current ties with friends and family, lead a completely different life. The objective of Seh Hee in the movie, can indeed drive someone nuts, and even drive yourself nuts as you discover you're living a lie, and you can do nothing about it to reverse the process. But if your life is in a rut, would you be tempted to do it? For the reasons of Suh Hee, of being someone else to test the fidelity of your other half, is just plain crazy and you'll easily come to see why it's a lose-lose situation from the start - he loves you now, so that says a lot about his affection for you in the past; He doesn't love the present you as he still can't forget and is still holding onto hopes of seeking the old you out, which will leave the current you miserable because you've already physically transformed. Ooh, it's one heck of a mind exercise.


I would deem this movie very accessible, paced very well, and has enough moments to keep you riveted and guessing the outcome at each step of the way. But it's not plain sailing and he does keep you guessing time and again, deliberately leaving some questions unanswered, providing you with plenty of room for discussion. For those who liked to be teased and dislike being spoonfed with the movie's narrative.

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