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'Intention' Depicts Love's Pathos

2008/03/13 Source

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

Actor Yoo Ji-tae presents his third directorial piece, "Out of My Intention". Through the 24-minute film, the star of cult favorite "Old Boy" and romance flick "One Fine Spring Day" demonstrates an ability to orchestrate subtle emotions.

The film unfolds on the road one lazy summer afternoon. A weary middle-aged man (Lee Dae-yeon) drives listlessly, while a lovely young woman (Jo An) rides in the passenger seat, wearing a grim expression.

Though the baby-faced woman and necktie-clad man make an odd pair, a typical lover's quarrel is in progress. The woman desperately wants to talk things out, while the man remains silent, and their shaky relationship begins to falter.

Tracing the haunting remnants of long-lost amours, "Intention" takes viewers on a ride between the mundane and surreal. The middle-aged man is actually driving down memory lane. Their love died perhaps 20 years ago, but the moment he remembers her, he conjures her back to life. He has grown old and weary, but his beloved Ok-gyeong, forever young in his heart, chirps away next to him, shouting angrily or humming languidly, smiling sweetly and leaning on his shoulder.

First loves never die, Yoo suggests. "Intention" is more poetic than narrative. Its main aim is to capture and evoke a particular sentiment regarding youthful love's urgent desires and the woes they leave behind. It features just about everything one might expect in a short film, including the bizarre and surreal, "artsy" scenes, where our heroine prances around with her face painted like a mime artist.

Yoo takes full advantage of the film medium, creating an ambiance from what is included and excluded in the mise-en-scene. The emotional tension between the couple, for example, is heightened by how the camera almost never captures them together in one frame.

He also juxtaposes reality and imagination, past and present. An ordinary drive down the highway is interrupted by a flooding mosaic of memories ― dates in the countryside, a small bug that lands on a windowsill and Ok-gyeong's mysterious smile.

The recent press preview for "Intention", which took place in a small Seoul theater for independent films, was unusually crowded. Appearing a bit startled by the media buzz, Yoo expressed a modest appreciation for "such a fancy reception".

Veteran actor Lee Dae-yeon said he was a bit baffled by the script, but decided to give it a shot. "Yoo said he wrote the script with me in mind", he said. "How can you say no to that?" A familiar face in TV soaps, Lee gives the film a nice gravitational pull, weighing down the fluffy parts, while fresh actress Jo An ("Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait") embodies youthful vigor and beauty.

Yoo's two previous works, also speaking of love, were well received at the Busan Asian Short Film Festival: "The Bike Boy" was chosen for the 2003 audience award and "How Does the Blind Dream" won the 2005 Fuji Film award for excellent work.

"Intention" reads like an audiovisual poem ?though more like a rough draft that makes you expect more from Yoo as a director.

Opens March 20 at Gwanghwamun Spongehouse (near exit 6 of Gwanghwamun station on subway line 5). Discounted admission upon presenting a ticket for "A Curtain Raiser" by Francois Ozon, currently showing. No English subtitles.

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