Idol (Woo Sang)
Rain buckets down in Lee Su-jin’s second feature, Idol. The film’s plot is as deceitful as its characters. At its heart are two fathers, Myung-hui and Joong-sik, dealt different cards in life and whose sons have been victim and perpetrator in a hit-and-run. However, as we move with them through the sprawling noir political thriller a different story than initially expected emerges. There was a witness to the crash, Joong-sik’s daughter-in-law. Not only is she pregnant but she, a Chinese immigrant, now lives in fear of deportation without proof of marriage. Plus, she’s got a dark past and violent capacities, which are revealed as she is tormented and torments in return.
It’s not rare for a political thriller to expose the indiscretions of those in power from behind closed doors. In the water-soaked scenes, blood stains wash away to reveal a world of political power, hypocritical actions and the changing faces of one’s public and private person. Chun Woo-hee plays Ryeon-hwa, the recent bride of Buhan. She may be a victim of circumstance but is certainly not a victim. Chun is almost unrecognisable between scenes as Ryeon-hwa’s faceted personality shifts rapidly from scene to scene.
There is no shortage of plot. The script sprawls and turns and spins at times predictably and, at others, not so much. Though the narrative is ambitious in scope, the characters jump between emotional states with little understanding of their drives. The story forces the viewer to take big leaps to keep up, which towards the close of the movie is exhausting.
Ultimately, the ending doesn’t quite satisfy the appetite that grows throughout the film. Myung-hui has risen to power and delivers a speech. We are left looking at an auditorium of faces mirroring our own at the theatre. The Korean filmmaker leaves us with an image that confronts a question of idolising that doesn’t fully emerge in his film and drains its potential power.
Idol (Woo Sang) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch a clip from Idol (Woo Sang) here: