The film is based on actual events, and tells the story of 32-year-old, divorced Kim Moon-hee and 19-years-old Hyeon. The two of them embark on a relationship; however, according to S. Korean Law, youths are forbidden to have sex until the age of 20. Therefore, Kim ends up in prison for seducing a minor and she is also forced to do some hours of social work. When she is released, apart from a large crowd of journalists waiting to get a comment from her, Hyeon is also there.
The two of them leave together, and spent some days in a hotel, mostly having sex. Eventually, they end up in Jane's house, a friend of Moon-hee's. While there, she realizes that their relationship cannot continue, but he insists that he loves her and will not let her go.
The film has a very peculiar, to the point of being surrealistic, ending. They hold a party for Hyeon to celebrate his coming-of age. However, the ones invited include some very odd choices, like Mun Hee's ex-husband, Seo Hyun's parents, the officer who interrogated her, and some others, equally unfitting.
Park Chul-soo directs a film about love, growing up, and a doubtful, to say the least, S. Korean law. However, there is no deep analysis, as the focus is on entertainment, rather than context. In that fashion, steamy sex scenes take a large part of its duration. Those however, are quite well shot, as they exemplify the protagonists' looks.
As Hyeon is madly in love with Moon-hee and seems to have only sex on his mind, the film's focus lies mainly with Moon-hee. She worries that the he will leave her one day, when he is finally tired of making love, and of the future a relationship like theirs could actually have. Furthermore, she constantly doubts her own feelings, as she is not sure if they are real or if she has just found a shelter from loneliness.
Accordingly, Suh Jung's role as Moon-hee is the most difficult and she has a more than adequate performance. Shim Ji-ho as Hyeon has his moments, like in the scene where he pretends to be drunk, but overall, his acting is on a lower level than hers is. Their chemistry is quite good, aided by the fact that they are both very beautiful.
The film occasionally functions as an art-house one, as Lee Eun-gil's cinematography focuses on realism. The pace on the other hand, corresponds to a mainstream film, with Oh Young-hwan's editing keeping the pace quite fast.
The last scene, is almost funny in its surrealism, but seems completely out of place from the rest of the film.
"Green Chair" could have been a really provocative and meaningful film, but instead focused on the entertaining aspect, thus missing the chance of becoming a masterpiece.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Available on DVD and streaming from Amazon
DVD US (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] "Green Chair""
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