Presented in the “events section” at the 11th Film Festival Korean in Paris, THE AGE OF SHADOWS, the latest Kim Jee-woon (I met the devil, The last bastion, the good, the bad and the crazy) seems to borrow a way more “serious” in the manner of a Park Chan-wook (Miss, Thirst, Old Boy).
Jumping from one genre to another with a certain irony since its inception, the practice of genre cinema in Kim Jee-woon , however, have always been in full compliance with the codes and traditions – The last bastion is, for example, first a film of Schwarzenegger – more on that in a blasting of their forms and themes. With THE AGE OF SHADOWS this attack, and the historical drama : the occupation of Korea by the Japanese in the 1920s. To which is added the genre of ” espionage film “, and the many figures that this implies. The dimension of the baroque attributed to its films lies in this mix of genres : entertainment, often abundant, sometimes a little hollow, but always generous.
Beyond the plastic beauty of the film (reconstruction, photography), there’s really the feel that Kim Jee-woon wants to give to THE AGE OF SHADOWS this dimension of twilight that are found in the classics of the genre type for The Army of shadows by Jean-Pierre Melville. The film has fortunately not the posture is hieratic (false) “great films” that are choosing some recent films (The Mole, Reasons of state). Caught up so to speak by the great Story, Kim Jee-woon tries to find the balance between a proposal for a film that is both entertaining for the audience and relevant to the moral point of view that it offers of the world. Still effective also when it comes to filming action sequences – the opening sequence virtuoso where Kim Jee-woon plays with different spatial levels in this thrilling sequence of the train – the filmmaker, once again, demonstrates all his knowledge of the mounting and the frame. Sequences often fly high where the stakes dramatic increase and the power relationships between the characters develop within the same sequence, more stretched and dilated in time. Little by little, the paths are sinking and are closing in on our two heroes – a policeman collabo (Song Kang-ho) and a photographer-resistant (Gong Yoo) caught in a trap of their own ” disguise “.
“While the story suffers from moments of the duration aberrant of the film (2: 20) and that the action scenes and suspense sometimes seem to operate independently of the rest of the film, Kim Jee-woon keeps the appearance “game-macabre” which is unique to his cinema, and this, whatever the situations, though tragic they are. “
Advocating the clarity of a linear story, Kim Jee-woon did “not attempt the devil” in the changing situation plot, and it is to his credit. Here there is a simplicity of writing that we do not yet know in Kim Jee-woon. Saving even the leitmotiv of the genre films Korean (the death drive) – although there is still a scene of torture, forced – THE AGE OF SHADOWS features, with the same frontality (without the irony), values, and feelings more intimate, and more buried than usual. While the story suffers from moments of the duration aberrant of the film (2: 20) and that the action scenes and suspense sometimes seem to operate independently of the rest of the film, Kim Jee-woon keeps the appearance “game-macabre” which is unique to his cinema, and this, whatever the situations, though tragic they are. Although his film could easily flirt with the artificial, Kim Jee-woon takes care of filming bodies inhabited, real, movie characters referring to any imagery in film, but also of human beings in their intentions, and not just outfits (the default of many historical films). The intelligence of the film lies in its ability to build dialectically, the main theme of his cinema with the theme of the film (tricking the opponent or the partner) : the boundary between the appearance and the costume social with the true nature of man and his deep desires. Like a Na Hong-jin (The Strangers) who built his entire movie around the immanence of the death drive, Kim Jee-woon agency, dialectic of the false and the true, not in the manner of a Park Chan-wook who uses twists scriptwriting for stage, of the most ephemeral, but as a real imagier who shares his knowledge diégétique with the viewer to include emotionally in the scenes. And that is the difference between a filmmaker who excludes his audience, and a filmmaker who loves him.
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– Summary of the 11th edition
– Practical information
– Around the MFT
– Reviews and interview with the MFT 2016