Sunday, July 19, 2009

Memento Mori

As part of UM's Korean New Wave Cinema festival, I went today to the Cosford Cinema and watched the 1999 film Memento Mori (Yeogo Goedam II). From the trailer, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. It looked like a horror film starring a young Korean lesbian couple in their high school years, possibly involving some kind of serial murder of young girls. What I got was completely different. The film begins with a girl (Min-ah, played by Min-sun Kim) finding a diary between the 2 other female leads (the lesbian couple - Hyo-shin, played by Yeh-jin Park and Shi-eun, played by Young-jin Lee), filled with the inner-workings of their relationship with each other. But as she continues to read, she also continues to unfurl the deeply complex relationship of the two girls. Hyo-Shin was an outcast amongst her peers, who desperately wanted to show the world the love she had for the only person who loved her back - Shi-eun. Shi-eun, however, was much more reluctant to display her rather controversial relationship with the rest of her school. The film's plot works on several levels, making it difficult to pinpoint it to any specific genre. While it seems to be advertised as a horror film, there is also drama, suspense, mystery, romance, and even a few comedic scenes thrown in to the mix (especially the scenes involving the annual school physicals the girls need to take.) The relationship between the two girls was particularly moving, as it depicted the difficulties of falling in love despite societal pressures, and how those pressures can completely destroy someone for something they have no control over. There are a few added bizarre twists, like the relationship between Hyo-jin and a teacher at her school. The second half of the film could almost run as a completely different film, adding a more supernatural aspect to the film (this is where the horror portion comes in.) I didn't really find any of it to be particularly frightening, but it still was enough to make me a little jumpy at parts. Overall, the movie delivers with excellent performances by all the major players, fantastic cinematography which set the mood perfectly at every scene, and a great love story gone wrong. Highly recommend it!

If you're interested, check out the trailer here or watch the first 10 minutes of the film to get you going!:

No comments: