haleigh’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was a fantastically important film rife with intrigue in every single aspect. The cinematography, screenplay, editing and mise-en-scene lent to so many thought-provoking ideas and complex messages that are really difficult to see or notice the first time around. Even in what feel like drawn-out, boring shots of landscapes or scenery--Lee Chang-dong is expressing something about class politics and psychological vulnerability/entrenchment in the contrast of shots he places side-by-side.
As such, the cinematography is absolutely breathtaking, and the more I think about this movie--the more I like it. The more I meditate on the dialogue choices, the screenplay's ebb and flow, the plot devices--the more I realize how masterful this film was in its way of telling its story.
I will admit that it often felt like the story was trying to say too many things at once, and far too much of it was on-the nose. As a friend of mine wrote in her review-- "a lot of the intended ambiguity felt painfully obvious," and I think painful is the keyword there. It was very filmbro deep almost at times, with not enough subtlety in dialogue to make up for the overt attempts at profundity. Still, it impacts. It works.
Lee Chang-dong created another insightful and completely incisive take on southeast Asian economic politics and class struggles, and it plays out so gracefully in the understated tension between Ben and Jong-su. And ugh, I could cry thinking about how fucking incredible was Jun Jong-seo's performance as Hae-mi. She was so fucking powerful in her every line delivery, facial expression, and word of body language. She made the film so entrancing and haunting as it is.
Overall, I liked it a lot, and I recommend to anyone who's watched that they should read up on its messages afterward to get a fuller taste of what they saw. Great work.