Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder ★★★★½

Film #93 of Make me watch your favourite.

Recommended by Mr. Jago, Svarese and PinHeadLarry.

After having seen three of Joon-ho Bong's films now I can safely say that I like his style a lot and that I consider this one to be his best film.

Memories of Murder is a very intriguing police procedural that is not only captivating from start to finish, it's also made with great dedication to the based on real life events story, the setting and the characters. It is the type of films that repeatedly wrong foots you when trying to determine what you're watching exactly as it hops and skips between tonal shifts on a regular basis.

This is something almost thematic in the way Bong seems to tell his stories. He did this (to much lesser effect) in the Host and Snowpiercer as well. But here, here it all fits almost perfectly. Bong juggles sometimes wry, sometimes farcical humour, matter-of-fact violence, grim reality, tense chases and heartbreaking drama, all drenched in a style that emanates the era it is set in so well and offering an interesting insight into a culture's customs.

The story in and of itself isn't all that remarkable, but the characters and the way they interact are. The pair of small town cops we encounter first almost seem like caricatures, but they gradually turn into real people because of the situation they find themselves in. The third cop that is added remains a bit of a mystery, but he gradually takes over the investigation and we slowly see his obsession with this case get the better of him. These three characters are what makes this film work so brilliantly. Their interactions, their manners, their questionable methods, all are either entertaining or intriguing.

The aesthetic of the film is very pleasing and I really enjoyed this short submersion in a culture I'm not that familiar with, set in the eighties. I can only assume it is a fairly adequate representation of country life in that time and the way the police carried itself back then. Somewhat corrupt, very violent and authoritarian. everything just feels authentic, making watching this so very undemanding and interesting.

Memories of Murder is one of the most complete police procedural films I've ever seen, made by a director with no small amount of talent, making sure I'll keep returning to his work.

DirkH liked these reviews