Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oki's Movie

Last weekend I saw Oki's Movie during its showing at the Hong Kong International Film Festival. I'd heard of it before, as it stars two well-known Korean actors- Jung Yumi and Lee Seon-kyun, the latter of whom I'd seen in dramas. I went in without expectations and found it to be an overall rich, thought-provoking 80 mins. Below are my general impressions of the film:


Unlike most Korean dramas and movies I've watched, which tend to be over-the-top picturesque and idealistic, Oki's scenes, characters, and story were gritty and raw, making the film feel much like a documentary. The main character is Oki, a film student who has two major romantic relationships- one with her older professor and the other with her classmate. The movie is separated into four parts that each tell a separate story centered around one of these three characters.


I suppose that as an artsy film, Oki must be rated on a different scale from typical mainstream movies. For one, there's no clear plot; the four stories are only loosely connected and don't flow chronologically. The film also appears to lack any particular message to the audience- what we take away is completely based on our personal interpretation of the movie. For me, the purpose of the film appears to be an illumination of the changes people undergo in life. This is especially highlighted in the last quarter of the film, the titular Oki's Movie, wherein she juxtaposes two different hikes up the same mountain. One is taken with the older man, the other with the younger. While multiple similarities emerge, so do numerous differences, and it is within these differences that she discovers her own growth through time and realizes that the future will diverge as well.

If you're a fan of the typical sweet Korean dramas, you probably won't enjoy this. There's no delicate love story or grippingly exciting tension scenes; instead, it feels like an honest look into a person's life, with all its ups and downs and stark mundanity. I did enjoy it for that and anyone who's in the mood for slice-of-life stories probably will as well.

Just be warned- I've never seen either Lee or Jung look so unappealing before. The production didn't bother with good lighting or make-up; both actors appear as "real-life" as can be. I almost laugh now at seeing Jung Yumi in photoshoots because really, the wonders of photoshop become starkly obvious.

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