on… Empty Houses and Painful Golfing

Posted: 20/03/2012 in Cinema, Review
Tags: , , ,

Title: ‘3-Iron'(빈집) 2004

Released: 2004

Director: Kim Ki-duk

Writer: Kim Ki-duk

Starring: Jae Hee, Lee Seung-yeon

This is one of the best Korean films I have seen, and one of the best films I’ve seen for quite some time. Reading the impossibly constructed plot would make you think that this is a gimmick of a film or just plain pretentious; it is neither.

The film unfolds at a gentle pace with almost no dialogue, it feels like a nature documentary at times. Tae-suk quietly breaks into houses empty of occupants and proceeds to enjoy blissful yet brief domesticity. His time relaxing in the bath or in front of the television is counterbalanced with dull chores, chores which he accomplishes with the inner peace of a monk. Our sympathy with the character happens because he actually fixes things and steals nothing. This strange routine of breaking and entering is finally broken with the discovery of a battered housewife. Witnessing domestic problems draws our hero in, from his previously quiet solitary life, he enters into something far more complicated and ambiguous. The film follows a wordless love story through the various parts of the city and subsequent brushes with the housewife’s husband and the police.

I hate to use this term, but it could be described as a ‘magical realist’ love story, or worse yet – a modern fairy tale. But it’s a film that sweeps you along without the need for labels, and on closer reflection it makes you think. Despite the anonymous urban landscape the cinematography is beautiful and the music (one track in particular) is threaded through the film reflecting the continuing love story between the two silent protagonists.
I would recommend this film to anybody and everybody, even to those who don’t like subtitles as there is almost no dialogue. My only tiny problem is the title, in Korean it’s ‘Empty House’ which to me seems a more poetic title than 3 Iron.

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