Na-bi (played by Cha Ye-ryun) is an actress with a bit of a problem. She is a very unlikable person, and as such has managed to alienate most people in the entertainment industry willing to give her a job. Na-bi is forced by these circumstances to take on a risque role in a stage play. In the process of securing what she wants on her terms, Na-bi resorts to roofies and blackmail to get what she wants.
That's supposed to be funny, you see. Only a woman as wacky as Na-bi could use methods that extreme. Or sociopathic. Yes, let's go with sociopathic. "The Actress Is Too Much" is about a vile sociopathic woman who resorts to disgusting measures to get what she wants, and we're supposed to laugh at it. Well, sorry, I don't think there's anything funny about roofies. Especially when they factor in to one of the storyline's last plot points, again, being treated as a comedic device that's fine since everything works out in the end.
What makes this movie so agitating is that it clearly knows that Na-bi is not supposed to be a sympathetic person. It's right there in the title. But time and time again, she resorts to duplicitious measures to get what she wants, in some cases perpetrating straight out fraud, to the point that it's extremely difficult to feel any kind of pity for her. As far as I can tell, the blacklist she's been subjected to at the beginning of the movie was entirely deserved given the way she acts.
The other characters aren't much better. Our male lead, stage director Jin-woo (played by Jo Hyun-jae) barely has any distinguishing personality traits at all. It's not clear what he likes about Na-bi. Yes, she does have moments where she's just mildly annoying, rather than vicious. And to some extent I'm grateful the movie spends so much time on Na-bi's normal life. For a long stretch I genuinely thought the sociopathy wasn't going to come up again and maybe the movie would at least be passable entertainment.
But that's when I started realizing- nothing about anything that happens is really all that funny, at least not unless roofie comedy is up your alley. There was only one bit I thought was genuinely clever- and that was a pun. Very little is done with humor via actual characterization, making for a movie with lots of sequences that kind of look like jokes but which don't actually mean much of anything since there's no real unique personality to explain the sequence of events. There's a sex scene that I think was supposed to be amusing but there's so little build-up to it that the whole event just felt like something out of a soft-core porn flick.
The scene in question is important. Sex sells, and a plot point comes up that defines the conflict for the entire last portion of the film. It's just a very dumb conflict that only serves to confirm that none of our characters have actually learned anything from these adventures. Consequently, "The Actress Is Too Much" is a very poor product. It's offensive enough with its loose morality to be annoying, but not so much so to be funny. Finishing this movie really doesn't deserve much more reaction than a resigned sigh- thank goodness that's over with.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Actress Is Too Much""
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