Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder ★★★★★

Rewatched in anticipation of Snowpiercer. That, and it's a masterpiece well worth repeated viewings.

MoM has Song Kang-ho in top form, and that's saying a lot, paired with, then, newcomer Kim Sang-kyung as two very different detectives tearing themselves to shreds looking for a serial killer in the chaotic 80s in South Korea.

Based on a true story, Bong Joon-ho creates a haunting thriller, spiced with delectable snippets of hilarity as to not let us drown in the bleakness.
On the surface, without prior knowledge of Korea, you'll get one of the finer films of this genre to date, and the cinematography brings the Korean countryside to life in a breathtaking and mesmerizing way.

For the investigative cinephile though, there is much more here than meets the eye.
For large parts of the last century South Korea had the plight of "benign" dictators in power, and Song and Kim can be seen as representing two opposite and contrasting dictators.
The chatoic and unproductive investigation, exemplified by in-house fighting and the torturing of innocent "suspects" serve as metaphors to the heads of state's incompetent handling of the arising problems.
The clues lie in the characters names being relatively close to the real names of the dictators. Song's Do-maan is Yuon Do-hwan and Kim's Tae-Yoon is No Tae-woo, and one being rural and the other urban.
Their failures of getting their man is thus metaphorically Korea escaping the clutches of dictatorship.
The scene following their first knowledge of the significance of rain is also highly politically laden.

So there you have it, the recipe for a masterpiece working on more than one level, and why Bong is one of my absolute favourite filmmakers, as well as Song Kang-ho belonging in my personal top5 favourite actors.

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