about secret society rituals. These
elite prep school kids are too busy keeping their classmates down. They are the top ten in their class and they
will kill to keep it that way throughout Shin Su-won’s Pluto (trailer
screens during the 2013 Korean American Film Festival in New York.
June was the top student in his public high school, but that does not impress
anyone in his new school, particularly not his American roommate, Yu-jin
Taylor, the top man in their class. Supposedly,
this is his big opportunity. He was only
admitted because a suicide opened up space for him. That was Yung Su-jin’s roommate. Now the slacker computer major is out to
settle the score with the ruling elite.
Kim sort of likes her, but the working class transfer student opts to
curry favor with the privileged ten instead.
part of their “rabbit hunting” initiations, Kim does their dirty work in
exchange for inside information on approaching exams. Naturally, Taylor and his cronies clearly
have no intention of letting him into the club.
However, as viewers can readily glean from the film’s complicated
flashback structure, it is a very bad idea to play mind games with someone as
tightly wound as Kim.
Pluto’s class warfare themes are
obvious and inescapable, Shin’s uncompromising screenplay surpasses mere
polemics, portraying the sociopathic will-to-power at its rawest. This is not the sort of film that will have
anyone saying “so there” when it ends. Kim might be our protagonist, but he is not an
exactly a downtrodden POV character audiences would like to identify with. Surprisingly, his nemesis Taylor turns out to
be the most nuanced of the lot. Of
course, his cronies do not much care for his sudden subtle dimensions of
Pluto boasts some
considerable star-power, thanks to Kim Kkobbi appearing as Yung, a relatively
modest but intriguing supporting role.
Lee Da-wit is eerily soulless and desperate as the hollow-looking
Kim. Yet, it is June Sung who really
keeps viewers off-balance as the not exactly remorseful Taylor.
of the sins of prep school dramas past repeat again in Pluto. As if required by an
unwritten law, all the adults are ridiculously dense and the cops are
problematically passive. Still, Shin
raises the stakes for all future prep students behaving badly, making a film
like Tanner Hall look tame and pale
in comparison. Despite some clumsy
excesses, it is mesmerizing in-your-face filmmaking. Recommended for the
reasonably jaded, Pluto screens this
Friday (10/25) at the Village East as part of this year’s KAFFNY.
Labels: KAFFNY '13, Kim Kkobbi, Korean Cinema