Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Time (Kim Ki-duk, 2006)

***½
South Korea

Kim Ki-duk abandons his newfound state of zen for this metaphysical horror wherein a hysterical girlfriend becomes adamant that plastic surgery will save her relationship. There are complications, of course, only involving a lot more conversation than you'd expect and a lot less gore.
As in much of Kim's work, plausibility is a non-issue - and when the girlfriend goes under the knife (and morphs into a different, though no less arresting, actress), it isn't entirely clear whether or not you're supposed to accept that the man who had been sleeping with her for two years is unable to recognise her even once he starts sleeping with her again. But even at its most disorienting, the film is never less than intriguing. The impact that the self-mutilation has on the lovers' shifting neuroses goes well beyond the basic identity crisis, and brings up issues regarding both contemporary romancing as well as some basic, rarely acknowledged hangups that have been haunting relationships a fair bit longer than cosmetic surgery has. Hangups to do with obsessiveness, possessiveness, dueling egos/pathologies, the [insert-number]-year-itch etc. etc.
Also, perhaps for the first time in his career, Kim is working towards social commentary, since roughly half of Korea's population of women in their twenties is estimated to have turned to a plastic surgeon.

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