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Oh! Soo-jung
IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 from votes
Release: 27 May 2000 (South Korea) /

Oh! Soo-jung

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Sang-soo Hong,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: A young man arrives at a hotel for an assignation; she calls to say she's not coming. He is Jae-hoon, she is Soo-jung; they've met through Young-soo, an independent filmmaker. Soo-jung writes for Young-soo; Jae-hoon may finance his film project. From varying points of view in two long parallel flashbacks, we see what precedes the hotel date. Details differ, and each account includes events missing from the other. Characters are quiet and self-contained, then animated; victims apologize. Each character frequently asks, "Really?" What has really happened? Is one account more accurate? Is a kiss the most enjoyable and promising human contact? Connections are tenuous and fragile. Written by <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews


One of the more colorful movie titles in history belongs to a film that was shot in black and white. However, the English title is a great deal more lurid than the original Korean title (¡°Oh! Soo-Jung!¡±), and is more suggestive of a 1960s Suzuki Seijun sex potboiler than a deliberately paced b/w art film. ¡°Virgin¡± IS ostensibly about the deflowering of a film director¡¯s young assistant, but in fact it¡¯s much more content to linger upon and play around with the little details that precede the big event. Soo-Jung¡¯s ¡°bachelors¡± are the down-and-out indie film director who she works for and the director¡¯s independently wealthy and seemingly none-too-bright drinking buddy. The central conceit of the film is that the same story (the wooing of Soo-Jung) is told twice (Hong likes to divide his films into interrelated halves), from different perspectives. Although whose perspective each segment is taken from is a little unclear (I assume that Part One is the rich guy¡¯s view and Part Two is Soo-Jung¡¯s, but that seems to create a couple of problems). The changes range from the minor to the quite grand (Soo-Jung is pawed on in a back alley by a different suitor in each half). What it all adds up to is a kind of cosmic game of chance. Two different sets of events build inexorably to the same result. Unlike Hong¡¯s other two recent films (I haven¡¯t seen ¡°The Day a Pig Fell in a Well¡±), the events of the first half of the film don¡¯t in any way dictate what happens in the second. But in ¡°Virgin¡± it is unclear what is truth and what is fiction, and I¡¯m not sure that any of the characters in the film can be trusted as far as they can be thrown. But what is real and what is imagined is not of primary importance. What is important is that the scheme allows for Hong to dwell on his favorite themes: chance disconnection, male/female relationships and what he seems to feel is the spiritual vacuity of modern Korea. Seems this vacuum doesn¡¯t just exist in Korea. Hong shares many of the same sympathies and stylistic traits with Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-Liang and the Finn Aki Kaurismaki, i.e. a free-floating style that lacks what can be called a conventional plot, a dislike of excess cutting, muted acting, a predilection for silence and sparing use of soundtrack music, a subtle, dark sense of humor, and a rather bleak view of modern existence. Not to say that these filmmakers are the same, because each is certainly distinctive in his own way, but all three seem to fixate on a problem that is not endemic only to their particular locales (as firmly rooted in those locales as they all may be). Hong¡¯s films are neither entertaining nor reassuring, but for those who prefer substance to fireworks and cliche in their cinema, his works continue to reveal why he is among the best directors working today. It¡¯s a shame he isn¡¯t better known, either here in Korea or abroad.

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