Thursday, February 12

Review: Time (2006)

Or Love in the time of surgery according to Kim Ki-Duk.

It's a strange feeling, getting old. I feel the same, sleep the same, I even sound the same. But the mirror in the bathroom disagrees. I have gotten heavier around the middle. My eyes a little darker; my hair a little lighter with gray. My teeth stained from the hundreds of cigarettes and a thousand cups of coffee that I have and will consume.

Time has made me wiser. But also older. And let's face it: More and more less of what I was.

I see this sometimes reflected on my partner's eyes. And it's a painful thing to see.

Kim Ki-Duk takes this pain and creates an admonishing parable in his 13th movie, "Time."

Shi gan (Time)
Written and Directed by Kim Ki-Duk
Starring: Sung Hyun-Ah (Woman is the Future of Man), Ha Jung-Woo (The Unforgiven)

Familiarity breeds monotony, and in the two-year relationship of Seh-hee and Ji-Woo (Ha Jung-Woo) it has resulted in obligatory sex and predictable dates in a cafe. In trademark Kim Ki-Duk fashion, Seh-Hee asks Ji-Woo to think of someone else while they fuck. The sex is hotter. Seh-hee is destroyed. The following day, Seh-Hee disappears and without telling Ji-Woo, undergoes cosmetic surgery to change her face beyond recognition. Six months later, Ji-Woo meets See-hee (Sung Hyun-Ah) in the cafe he frequents and dangerous sparks fly out of the blue and into the black. See-hee is Seh-hee and demands the clueless Ji-Woo to choose between them.

This is definitely Kim Ki-Duk's most obvious work as he (angrily) slaps on the movie his disdain for Korea's, and everyone else's, obsession with physical beauty. After Ji-Woo realizes that See-hee and Seh-hee are the same woman, he also gets his face altered leaving Seh-hee desperately looking for him; the feel of his hands in hers her only anchor. If the hands fit, so to speak. And this is a Kim Ki-Duk movie where the laws of reality are ignored and the fantastic and the surreal exist as truths. In the end, "Time" admonishes too much to be really provoking. The vicious cycle ending comes across as preachy, and not the ambigous catharsis that we've come to expect from the director.

It is without doubt though that "Time" is visually magnificent. The statue park of Baegumi on the island of Mo which breathtakingly displays the sculptures of Lee Il-ho becomes the only constant in the passage of time and tide. The iron hands that sometimes rise from the depths and oftentimes cradle the lovers is the heart that remains a child. Tarnished, yes, but unchanging.

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