In mystery drama Madonna, director Shin Su-won’s instills a sense of despair and hopelessness that lingers, and as the unsuspecting complexity of the film’s characters become more apparent, the narrative seamlessly critiques the sociological realities that inspired it.
Moon, one of the film’s central characters, is a new nurse who has been assigned to care for a very important patient, Kim Chul-oh, who is also the hospital’s beneficiary. The institution itself is run by morally corrupt doctors and deviants. all operating under the notion that their future depends on Chul-oh’s survival. When the black market organs acquired by Kim Young-min, (Chul-oh’s son) fail, a pregnant woman named Mi-na with no brain activity, becomes a source of both hope and shame.
As Mi-na’s primary caregiver, Moon is instructed to find a living relative and, in the process, learns of her tragic and lonely existence, devoid of affection, respect and love, pregnant with a baby she loved, by a man who raped her. Over the course of the two-hour film, Mi-na becomes much more than an organ donor, and the audience follows suit as the characters attempt to unearth their own humanity.
Madonna makes a profoundly unpleasant, often graphic statement on feminism and how South Korean women are still considered a commodity: easily bought, sold or simply thrown away with few repercussions. It is agonising to follow Moon’s moral awakening, while also watching the senseless degradation of a character who so badly needs help, but is lost from the start.
Although there are pro-life overtones, the real statement expertly portrays our duplicitous nature as human beings, while also emphasising, through Mi-na’s suffering, that we are all capable of more.
Madonna does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Madonna here: