Lee Yoon-ki's This Charming Girl (S. Korea / 2004)

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Lee Yoon-ki's This Charming Girl (S. Korea / 2004)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat May 19, 2007 4:36 am

[Moved from the Korean Korner / OP 08/08/05]



A delicate and nuanced study of self-imposed loneliness and internal suffering, This Charming Girl (Yeoja, Jeong-hye) is a confident debut feature from South Korean filmmaker Lee Yoon-ki. In the film, Lee's camera incessantly follows a twentysomething Seoul woman, Jeong-hae (a brilliant Kim Ji-soo), as she goes through her mundane daily routine which is primarily comprised of an early morning rise for a minor post-office job, regular lunches with friendly co-workers, and then a lonely walk home to her well-equipped apartment. As the films international title suggests, Jeong-hae is certainly charming but she is also a bit peculiar (which her co-worker also implies after learning that this otherwise neat woman likes second-hand smoke). Along with a few locks that decorate her apartment door, she has also instituted various alarm setups throughout her domicile even though she lives in the middle of suburbia. A few initial flashback sequences provide hints about her past: her supportive mother passed away after a painful illness, shes had a problem or two with her ex-husband. But the more deliberately intrusive Lees camera becomes, the more distant his protagonist gets. Then all of a sudden we find her in the middle of a street asking a young writer (Hwang Jung-min), a regular post-office visitor, to come over for dinner and a meeting with her newly adopted cat, the only thing shes having a hard time controlling.

Winner of awards at Deauville, Berlin and Pusan (where the film had its premiere), this reticent, minimalist gem was shot hand-held by Lee, but it features a cool, bright look, much like its leading lady. It's quite refreshing to see this almost "feminist" film from a country which has exported an abundance of nihilistic masochism in recent years. As the final few somewhat awkwardly paced flashbacks convey the reason behind her current state, the film grows in immediacy and ultimately comes to quite a head. This Charming Girl certainly features some European art-house influences, none more so than in the final sequence where it becomes obvious that new filmmakers like Lee have already started paying homage to the Dardennes.

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*Available on English-subtitled Korean (Region-3/NTSC) DVD from Spectrum.
arsaib4
 


Re: Lee Yoon-ki's This Charming Girl (S. Korea / 2004)

Postby hengcs » Sat May 19, 2007 6:17 am

His third film

Ad Lib Night
hengcs
 

Re: Lee Yoon-ki's This Charming Girl (S. Korea / 2004)

Postby arsaib4 » Sat May 19, 2007 6:30 am

I plan on watching Ad Lib Night very soon. Have you seen Lee's second effort, Love Talk?
arsaib4
 

Re: Lee Yoon-ki's This Charming Girl (S. Korea / 2004)

Postby hengcs » Sat May 19, 2007 2:24 pm

I did not watch the second film because I think it did not make it to Singapore or San Francisco ... I have heard that reviews were bad ...
hengcs
 

Re: Lee Yoon-ki's This Charming Girl (S. Korea / 2004)

Postby arsaib4 » Sun May 20, 2007 6:34 am

I've gotten the same impression. But, as you know, I don't overly concern myself with mainstream "critics," so if I get the opportunity, I'll go for it based on the strength of This Charming Girl. Quite often, the expectations created by great debut films work against the filmmakers for their follow-ups, regardless of the quality of the work. This has been proven time and time again.
arsaib4
 


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