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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Warm After All"

2016/05/28 | 1647 views | Permalink

Eun-kyeong (played by Lee Sun) is a forty-something dubbing actress who spends her daily life not doing much of anything. Euk-kyeong wakes up, she goes to work, engages in some simple token dialogue with co-workers, and goes home again having apparently very quickly managed to exhaust all of her energy throughout the day. The process repeats, with Eun-kyeong's ex-husband Sang-moon (played by Im Hak-soon) showing up in his own depressing scenes every so often, where he also struggles to summon the energy to actually do anything.

Yes, "Warm After All" is another one of those films- the kind that attempts to inspire listless helpless depression by forcing the viewer to endure watching fictional characters suffer silently. I'm never sure what to make of these movies. Oftentimes they feel like a vaguely ominous threat, as if I too will lose all sense of spirit and motivation in the next fifteen years, punctuated by a freak tragedy beyond current imagination.

That there is, in fact, an actual good reason for Eun-kyeong's listless behavior is rather besides the point. Don't let the title fool you- there's no sense of optimism in "Warm After All". The original Korean title translates more as "warmer than guesswork". Had Eun-kyeong been asked about what this melancholia would have felt like ahead of time, she probably would have answered completely dead rather than mostly dead.

The lack of context is the main problem which makes it hard to connect with "Warm After All". Somewhat hilariously, Sang-moon appears to be just as depressed in flashback as he is in the present day. We don't know how long Eun-kyeong and Sang-moon had been stuck in serious malaise. It seems implied that they divorced in an attempt to solve that problem, and that at least one character thought that they were better off being miserable together rather than alone. Which in a mocking twist of fate, does end up happening.

There is something to that idea. After all, the reason Eun-kyeong is so out of sorts is because she has no one to share her grief with, returning to an empty home with only memories of unhelpful advice to refer to as evidence that she has survived another day providing vocal work for a children's cartoon. Sure, co-worker So-yeon (played by Park Myung-shin) is unusually catty. And new recruit Hye-yeong (played by Woo Seong-eun) is very at ease with being treated as the bottom rung. Yet...is that really all there is to life? Petty squabbles of the present existing as a reminder of petty squabbles no longer to be?

"Warm After All" is assuredly, nearly excessively gloomy in outlook. Even a trip to Jeju Island can do little more except start the healing process, maybe, because writer/director Lee Sang-min-III doesn't give us much to look forward to except the possibility that maybe Eun-kyeong and Sang-moon can start to appreciate that time has not obliterated their ability to have any more feeling at all. "Warm After All" is successful in exploring depression along these lines, I guess, although it doesn't do much more than that.

Review by William Schwartz

"Warm After All" is directed by Lee Sang-min-III and features Lee Sun and Im Hak-soon.

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