Time ★★★½

Lise and Jonnie's What A Wonderful World 2015

I didn’t know going in where Time figured in Kim Ki-duc’s filmography. The very first thing that struck me is that all the characters spoke, and it seemed to follow a conventional narrative arc. This made me think it was a very early work. It turned out that I was mistaken, and that Time is smack dab in the middle of Kim’s filmography.

My first impression was that Kim was exploring the onerous and superficial burden society places on women and their looks. Magazine covers flaunt expected perfection, and it’s telling that even the subjects they feature are not perfect enough; they have to be photoshopped to make them ideal. I realized that wasn’t quite it, though, as it became clear that Kim also wanted to explore the wandering eye syndrome, and its potentially crushing effect on a partner. Although explored as female insecurity, I feel this point could easily have been reversed as male insecurity. In fact, I think he turned the tables a bit in the second act.

After a transformation, the second act takes off in a new direction; the concept of identity, and how looks are inextricably tied to who we are, even though they’re only an identification factor. Our two protagonists search for each other without the benefit of visual cues, and are continuously frustrated.

While probably the least interesting and inventive of any of the Kim films I’ve seen, that’s hardly a condemnation for such an inventive director. Time explores great themes and concepts, even if it’s execution is not nearly as brilliant as his other work.

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