Monday, October 10, 2005


Memories of Murder

Jung-ho Bong, 2003

Viewed August 2005, Comcast on-demand

Score: 9

A stunningly unique film that has apparently been considered for a distribution deal in the US for quite some time. It's a shame that never happened; it deserves a wider audience.

It purports to be loosely based on a case in rural South Korea involving "South Korea's first serial killer." The crimes are macabre and disturbing; women are abducted, sexually abused, and ritually killed. The most impressive accomplishment of this film is the extent to which the deeply depressing and incomprehensibly senseless and tragic death and violence are portrayed with touching, respectful compassion. At the same time, the movie is damned funny throughout. The investigation of the local homicide detectives is a disaster from the incompetent compromising of the crime scenes to the cruelty with which they beat a confession out of a local idiot who had a habit of staring at the victim a little too lustfully, to their deeply inept and dangerous sting operation. One of the two detectives savagely beats any suspect and the slightest provocation, without any sense of what might be gained--or lost--through such actions (he's very proud of his kicking technique). They want to do well, but they simply don't know how; they're in so far over their heads, you can't help but feel sympathy for them, as little as they deserve it. They try very hard to maintain a simple dignity as they incompetently go about their jobs and personal lives. This could have been maintained, has a crime of incomprehensible proportions not disrupted their lives.

Much to the consternation of the local detectives (and their equally clueless police chief) a big city detective. This cliched setup works to a significant degree due to the poker-faced, passive aggressive take on the conflict between them.

If you have comcast on demand, check and see if it's still there for free. It's under the broad category of "Palm pictures" or "Palm festival" or something. It's a uniquely satisfying crime story on several levels.

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