will not be a typical birthday for Seo-hyun.
It will make his relationship legal.
He made the first move on Kim Mun-hee and she paid quite a price. It is a love story of sorts, the provocative kind
that appealed to the sensibilities of Korean auteur Park Chul-soo. Fittingly, Park’s eyebrow-raiser Green Chair (trailer here) screens this Tuesday in New York as part
of the Korean Cultural Service’s continuing Korean Film Night retrospective
tribute to the late filmmaker.
thirty-two year old Kim has plenty to teach the nineteen-going-on-twenty
Hyun. Unfortunately, the cops get wind
of their relationship, resulting in a brief spell in jail and a stiff community
service sentence for Kim. When she is
released, she and Hyun hole up in a seedy motel, hoping to avoid the tabloid
press. (Evidently, the real age of
consent is considerably younger in South Korea, so what they simulate in that
hotel room really isn’t so problematic.)
an intellectual level, Kim understands their relationship is not sustainable,
but she just can’t quit him. Reeling from
the scandal and humiliation, she has become somewhat erratic, yet Hyun puts up
with her outbursts. Hoping to run out
the clock as his magic birthday approaches, Kim and her illicit lover take
refuge in the home of her amazingly indulgent artist friend Jean. Given his immaturity, her instability, and the
outside pressures they face, it is hard to envision them lasting, but Park is
clearly more interested in their in-the-moment intensity.
Green is way more
explicit than Summer of ’42 and
considerably more honest about the consequential emotional toll. Despite the eroticism, Park jars viewers with
the raw emotion of the first two acts and completely throws everyone for a loop
with the bizarrely discordant (almost absurdist) climax. Say what you will about the film, but it has
one of the darnedest dinner parties you will ever see in the movies.
Seo Jung goes for broke and beyond as Kim.
Her performance is revealing in every conceivable way. Often naked and self-recriminating, she
redefines the expression “hot mess.” Necessarily
more introverted, Shim Ji-ho’s Seo-hyun is still convincingly petulant, rash,
and boy-toyish. Yet, the warmth and hints of vulnerability Oh Yun-hong displays
as Jean make her the one character viewers would want to meet in real life.
Chair sounds creepier on
paper than it is as a fully realized film.
Partly that is because Shim really is not all that young. The odd directions Park takes and Oh’s
attractive, down to earth turn considerably help as well. Recommended for discerning and very mature
audiences, Green Chair screens this
Tuesday (10/15) at the Tribeca Cinemas, free of charge, courtesy of the Korean
Cultural Service in New York.
Labels: Korean Cinema, Korean Cultural Service, Park Chul-soo