TIME (SHI GAN)
(director/writer: Ki-Duk Kim; cinematographer: Sung Jong-moo; editor: Ki-Duk Kim; music: Noh Hyung-woo; cast: Seong Hyeon-ah (See-hee), Ha Jung-woo (Ji-woo), Park Ji-yun (Seh-hee), Kim Sung-min (Doctor); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ki-Duk Kim; Lifesize Entertainment; 2006-S. Korea-in Korean with English subtitles)
“It’s worth noting that even though the plot is daffy, cosmetic surgery is very popular in South Korea.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
South Korean auteur Ki-Duk Kim (“The Isle”/”Three-Iron”) helms an eerily misanthropic film that is lensed through the eyes of a dysfunctional romantic couple. It tackles the subjects of identities and obsessions, as love here will be viewed as an obsession. Seh-hee (Park Ji-yun) and Ji-woo (Ha Jung-woo) are a vacant young couple who have been together for two years. Seh-hee is jealous of her mate because he looks at other women, even if he doesn’t do more than that. But the insecure lady fears he might leave some day unless she improves her looks. Thereby without warning she gets drastic facial plastic surgery and goes AWOL. When they reunite, she becomes unrecognizable as an waitress in the cafe they hang out in, with a different actress (Seong Hyeon-ah) playing her part. He flirts with her and she forces him to choose either his former missing girlfriend or the prettier new her. He still carries the torch for the former Seh-hee. This leaves her as insecure as ever, as she’s now jealous of her old self. It’s worth noting that even though the plot is daffy, cosmetic surgery is very popular in South Korea. A major problem here, is that it’s hard to sympathize with such unlikable and vain leading characters. Also the absurd story wasn’t convincing, more like play-acting. But the talented Kim hits a home run when he turns our attention to how superficial are many romances and how artificial are many of our concepts on beauty.
REVIEWED ON 7/8/2016 GRADE: B-