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Interesting Characters But Limp Story

2007/03/01 | 197 views | Permalink | Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

Director Chung Yoon-chul of the 2005 hit film "Running Boy" ("Marathon") is back with a new film. But if you expect to see another human drama by the director, his new comedy film "Shim's Family" could be disappointing.

But his interest and observation in individual's lives and relationships remains intact.

The new film looks at each member of a family in crisis and attempts to find the meaning of family. It takes an unconventional and experimental approach.

It focuses on characters individually and is successful in creating unique and hilarious moments. But the disparate moments, however funny, fall short of forming a well-organized story.

The film revolves around Shim's Family, the members of which seem to have nothing in common and no affection toward each other. The only time they come together is at the dining table.

What causes a huge distance between the five family members?

The father (played by Chun Ho-jin) is a strict-minded high school teacher who gets little respect from his students and family. The mother is always cranky, as she feels empty despite all the years she has devoted to her family.

The son thinks he is not the biological son of his father and likes a poor girl who sleeps with old men for money. The daughter asks such questions as, "Isn't it better not to be born into this family?" "Why should I come home?" and "Why do family members live together without loving each other?"

The relationship of a jobless and hopeless fantasy novel maniac aunt (by Kim Hye-soo) to the family is parasitic.

The Shims are far from an ideal family, but despite their eccentricities, they strike us as more realistic. The personalities are exaggerated in the film but in reality many people are confused with their role in their family because of differences between traditional and contemporary concepts of family.

Shim's Family gets in trouble when the father tries to help a high school girl.

He takes her to a motel because she wants to rest. She falls asleep but then wakes up to find him asleep on the bed and takes a video of him with a cell phone. The footage then spreads on the Internet.

The incident, however, bonds the family members. As they tackle the problem together, they realize their collective meaning as a family.

The film develops in a clumsy and loose style, insufficient to deliver the theme. The film is full of interesting characters, but they are often lost because of the lack of a story bringing them together, just like the family itself.

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