Memories of Murder (2003) Bong Joon-ho
I struggle with wondering how to talk about a film I don’t particularly like that is based largely on a true story.
It may be that that’s how events really transpired, and that’s how those policemen really were. But as a film, I found the character archetypes and the subsequent flip to be a little too…obvious? Clear-cut? I don’t know, something. Additionally, I have a hard time in general with stories of gross incompetence (and self-delusion is another one) to begin with - you know, that which you hate the most being your greatest fear/weakness etc. etc. So, although I thought that there were maybe some problems with the way the characters were written, whether that’s truth or not, I recognize that part of my dislike is definitely just my personal preference.
The title of the film is important - memories of murder, at several layers. This speaks to the story elements of the people involved in the investigation, the witnesses, the escapee. The close brush with death. The false memories. But it also speaks to the country’s memories of those murders and their effects. Perhaps this film is, in a way, an apology. When I watched The Chaser, I remember having found a review written by a Korean guy, and he really went into the history of that type of police action that ties into the cultural need to save face - I wish I had saved that link. But so I think that that may be a really big part of the film, an apology for things gone wrong in many ways.
I know there are lots of people who love this movie. If you can get past the possible character issues, then yes, there is a lot to love. Both Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang-kyung did a great job with their roles. It is also very beautiful. But as a thriller, it’s not really very thrilling, even less of a slow-burn than Zodiac (but still unsettling). I recommend it, but with reservations.
#145 - 6/28/2012