Sunday 26 October 2008

A Bittersweet Life [2005]

A Bittersweet Life, life Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy, is a lyrical ode, a bittersweet poetry and a mesmerizing study on brutal, nerve-wracking violence and mayhem. In fact the movie is so good that at time, despite the clinical (and at times unforgettable) display of onscreen fury, my heart swelled with pain and empathy. Sun-Woo (brilliantly portrayed by Lee Byung-heon with astonishing ease), is a taciturn and nattily dressed enforcer for a gang-leader who he has been serving for seven years with deadly effectiveness. But then in a momentary lapse of judgment he lets the heart cloud his brain by developing feelings for his boss’ unfaithful girlfriend. And this sets in motion an irreversible course of action. The onscreen violence might be a tad too difficult to watch for the faint-hearted; for me, however, watching this incredibly choreographed, gorgeously photographed and magnificently directed movie (with a haunting soundtrack as an added feature) was an extremely exhilarating experience. The director’s ability to pay singular attention to the minutest details and drench the movie with a scintillating dose of nihilism and understated emotions, have made this otherwise straightforward plot attain an operatic quality with philosophical overtones. Sun-Woo’s realization that he had a sweet dream which unfortunately can’t ever come true provided the movie with an ending that I won’t forget anytime soon.

Director: Kim Jee-woon
Genre: Action/Gangster Drama/Crime Thriller/Revenge Movie
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean


sitenoise said...

It's weird, I know this film has a good rep, but all I can remember from watching it recently was that I think Lee Byung-hun should be the new James Bond. I couldn't get my self into this one.

Shubhajit said...

Well, you're right, the film indeed has a good reputation which initially compelled me to watch it. I know every individual develops his or her own opinion of a movie once it has been watched. As for me, I totally and completely loved it.

nitesh said...

Bittersweet Life is without a doubt one of the best noir films of the last decade. Irrespective of its compelling narrative and plot development structures it's the growth of Kim Jae Woon as a director that gives the movie its visual flair and its dynamic movements in the mise-en-scene and can be seen through the course of the film(camera, characters and even spaces)that makes the move come across with great style and flair.

What I really admire about him is that he has constantly reinvented genre film making and brought a very unique personal style of formulating a story, that seriously individualistic and that has catapulted him into one of the best directors coming from Korea in the last decade or so and one of the best filmmakers in the world working predominately form the beginning in making Genre films from Horror and as recently Spaghetti Western (The Good, The Bad& The Weird)

Shubhajit said...

I agree with you. Korean and Hong Kong, though close to India, are light years ahead insofar as their technical virtuosity, and openness to take challenging and off-the-beaten themes head on with facile ease.

Personally I too loved Bittersweet Life. It is dark, compelling, and has the ability to touch the heart despite the violent subject matter.

Thanks for your comments. Looking forward to more from you.