is a capricious perversity of the legal system a Victorian novelist would
admire. After the statute of limitations
expires for his crimes, a serial killer comes forward—ostensibly to
repent. However, the cop in charge of
the investigation doubts both his sincerity and his veracity in Jung Byoung-gil’s
Confession of Murder (trailer here), which screens
today during the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival.
Choi Hyung-goo still bears the scar from his close encounter with a masked
serial killer. The case became personal
for him—real personal. When Lee Doo-suk steps
forward claiming to be the serial killer he is not impressed. Neither are the families of his victims. In marked contrast, the public eats up his
phony contrition act, turning Lee into a media phenomenon. Unfortunately, there
is little Choi can do, but the families are not so passive.
by Jung, who is best known to NYAFF patrons for Action Boys, his documentary about Korean stuntmen, Confession has its share of big, adrenaline
charged chases and fight scenes.
However, it is not the stunt work bacchanal one might expect. Instead, Confession
plumbs some murky psychological depths.
Rather than an action thrill ride, it compares more closely to Kim
Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil.
maintains the stark tension throughout the film, but he unleashes a barrage of
revelations in the third act. Indeed,
viewers might kick themselves for not guessing a few, but Confession serves as an object lesson in how not to telegraph your
big twists by keeping everyone distracting with breakneck pacing. This is a really well constructed film, but
it is not for those with delicate sensibilities. Yes, there is a fair amount of
physical conflict, but the emotional violence is far more unsettling.
Jae-young is all kinds of hardnosed as Det. Choi, yet he also perfectly conveys
the damaged cop’s tragic nature.
Television star Park Si-hoo is suitably cold and creepy as the serial
killer-teen idol. Their scenes together
have serious zing, but they are also backed-up by a strong supporting cast that
really helps sell the twists and turns.
Presumably most viewers will not be experts in
South Korean criminal law, so it is easy to suspend disbelief over its initial
MacGuffin. While in America, the statute of limitations never expires for
murder, Confessions is such a nifty,
high concept thriller, it seems ripe for a Hollywood remake nonetheless. (Perhaps
a liberal judge in the Dirty Harry tradition
could issue a preemptive ruling granting the killer impunity.) Regardless, Confession of Murder is a muscular thriller that ventures into some
unusually dark places. Very highly
recommended, it screens this afternoon (7/3) at the Walter Reade Theater, as
part of the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival.
Labels: Korean Cinema, NYAFF '13, Serial killer movies