This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
leviathan93’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Three reasons this film sears itself in your mind:
- drastically ambiguous unease.
From the beginning until the end, we are forced to feel an unresolved questioning of the things that happen on screen. Until the end we are given no definite answers. How would we actually interpret the scene of Jongsu sitting in Hae-mi's apartment finally writing what can be a story that can provide closure to this tension and need for answers? Does the ending even happen then? Or it is just a cathartic creative work?
- metaphor of class rage and the objectification of women.
Ben's hobby of burning greenhouses works well as a metaphor for the working class women he goes out with. The police do not care, and they seem like they invite themselves to be burned. These greenhouses are located in rural areas, unlike Ben's sterile apartment in Seoul.
Hae-mi's candid acknowledgement of her plastic surgery and Jongsu's slut shaming after her naked sunset dancing that clearly provides her joy clearly shows how the females actions are driven and scrutinised by the male gaze. Ben collects trinkets from women he probably had dated before. They become a collection.
- the manipulation of the audience to feel 'The Great Hunger', which is described as a true hunger for meaning, for answers.
This is further highlighted by the mysterious aspects that we are never sure of: who calls Jongsu at night? does Ben really burn greenhouses? At the end, that hunger begins to manifest inside us. I'd argue that the importance of the last burning scene is not as important as the scene where Jongsu writes - it is then that we are invited to provide a personal answer to the great hunger within us.
A wonderful piece of cinema. Most opaque Lee Chang Dong I have seen but he is definitely one of my favourite directors ever.