[HanCinema's Film Review] "Elephant in the Room"
By William Schwartz | Published on
In the first segment of "Elephant in the Room" (Chicken Game), we're introduced via a charming animation of chickens helplessly trying to escape a meteoric apocalypse. From there we move on to a somewhat similar situation involving three mostly unrelated wayfarers who get stuck in a bad situation involving a car. They alternate between trying to get help and fighting each other. Typically they fail in their efforts, on account of the characters all being dumb crazy psychos one way or another.
Looking back I can see better now why the chicken animation prompted the story, because it's the same basic plot. We see a bunch of somewhat loud and annoying characters suffer the consequences of their own foolishness, even if strictly speaking the situation was not their fault. The overall problem with Chicken Game is that it's simply not very funny. The characters don't even have names, so it's hard to identify with them as people, let alone care about their petty feuding.
The second piece, (Second Account) is by far the strongest of the bunch. It features In-gyeong (played by Mi Ram) as a woman who escapes the tedium of her manual labor day job by participating in an anonymous social messaging service that mostly exists to facilitate random hook-ups. The quality of man In-gyeong runs into is...less than inspiring. The first guy we see insists on wearing a rather ridiculous looking hat. His technique needs work, too.
What makes Second Account interesting is that In-gyeong seems to hate her hobby almost as much as she hates her job. Given how basically cynical In-gyeong's hobby is, it's little surprise that In-gyeong's main flirtation with happiness ends up being a situation that is neither normal for her work or leisure time. It's the idea that someone would bother to remember In-gyeong's real name rather than her anonymous username. In-gyeong's look at the end, having heard that real name come up in such an unexpected context really is priceless.
The final section, (Lucid Dream) is...honestly, I didn't really understand Lucid Dream well enough to be able to offer much of an opinion of it. There's a car crash, and the guys aren't dead. Or are they dead? There's some sort of psychic dreamworld, and also scientific monitoring of the psychic dreamworld. Then there's guns, which works on spectres and real people in different ways, and uh, at that point I lost track. Lucid Dream is the kind of movie where relevant backstory ends up being introduced at the last minute because otherwise it will break immersion or something. Really I just didn't care.
If possible, I'd suggest watching only Second Account, because it really is quite good. Mi-ram's performance is excellent- the role marks her out for better jobs. I was also surprised to learn that the director of Second Account, Kwon Chil-in, directed "Venus Talk". In contrast to that more sex-positive movie, Second Account shows off a much darker, yet also more realistic vision of modern sexuality that spells out why hope is so tempting no matter the circumstance. But also, just to be clear, Chicken Game and Lucid Dream have very little of interest save for novelty's sake.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.