Featuring a great performance by Moon So-ri, "A Good Lawyers Wife" is a bit disconnected, but definitely worth watching for a number of reasons.
Lawyer Joo is married to the former ballet dancer/current instructor Ho-jeong. The two of them have adopted a son, but their marriage is in crisis, and they have started drifting apart. Furthermore, they are not able to satisfy each other sexually, and that has led Joo into having a mistress, and Ho-jeong into being flattered by the peeping of a teenager, who lives across their apartment. Joo's father has a terminal liver failure and that puts another burden on the family. Lastly, things become even worse when Joo hits a drunken motorcycle driver, who has no health insurance, while driving around with his girlfriend.
Im Sang-soo directs a film much like the Japanese indie ones, in terms of pace and general aesthetics. However, the movie is quite provocative and explicit, due to a number of graphic sex scenes, a few very bloody ones, and the shocking finale, which induces the picture with a distinct dramatic essence. Sex and alcoholism, and the way they shape human relationships are the main points he focuses on, but his analysis is not thorough at all. This occurs mainly because he decides to tackle a number of other issues, including the North-South Korean one, the relationships between parents and children, some social issues, and finally, revenge. This tactic though, eventually makes the film seem disconnected and without a clear purpose, as it functions more like a collage of the director's ideas than an actual movie. Some comic moments, that mainly include the son's behavior, provide a nice distraction, though.
Im Sang-soo bases the film on Moon So-ri's performance as Ho-jeong, and she responds in great (and quite sultry) fashion. Her portrayal of a highly sexual woman, who has to balance her lack of satisfaction, being a good mother,wife and daughter-in-law, not to mention to tolerate her husband's alcoholism and the fact that he is always missing from home, is magnificent. The way she slowly succumbs to her neighbor's attitude is also impressive. Hwang Jung-min as Joo is also quite good, with the highlight of his performance being the fight scene during the end. He is definitely on a lower level than his co-star is, though.
Kim Woo-hyung's cinematography is quite accomplished, as he uses some interesting techniques in the house and during the erotic scenes, including some impressive panoramic ones. The framing of the scene where the three members of the family lie with Joo's mother is a thing of beauty (the whole scene is great, actually) and the way he has placed the two protagonists in the ending scene is meaningful and quite imposing. Lee Eun-soo-I's editing keeps the film flowing, but does not stand out, at all.
"A Good Lawyers Wife" has its faults, but due to Moon So-ri's performance, Kim Woo-hyung's cinematography, and the number of erotic scenes and humor becomes a highly entertaining film.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Available on DVD from YESASIA
DVD (TW - English Subtitled)
DVD HK (En Sub)
Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer specialising in East Asian Cinema. He is the founder of Asian Film Vault, administrator of Asian Movie Pulse and also writes for Taste of Cinema, Eastern Kicks, China Policy Institute and Filmboy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Panos Kotzathanasis can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[Guest Film Review] "A Good Lawyer's Wife""
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