July 27, 2008

The Bow: Mind Your Own Business, Whippersnapper

Considered within Kim Ki-duk's oeuvre, The Bow is a fairly gentle fable. Sure, it centers around an old codger (Jeon Seong-hwang) who runs a recreational fishing vehicle and the underage simpleton (Han Yeon-reum) who he's kidnapped then raised for ten years to be his blushing bride but instead of delving into the brutal realities such a love-slave scenario suggests, The Bow turns out to be a peculiar winter-summer romance, and a shortlived one at that. In the end, you're left to figure out for yourself whether the appearance of the cute college student (Seo Si-jeok) is the girl's undoing, her salvation, or even whether it will have any major impact on her life at all. Since she's spent the entire movie as quiet as a dormouse except for a couple of giggles, one crying jag, a few whispered words into the old man's ear, and an orgiastic bit caused by her sexual awakening with a ghost, she's probably going to go through life as silently as she started whether she's surrounded by the clamor of the city, the rhythms of the country, or the serenity of the sea. If that busybody undergrad is a student of philosophy, he's now well prepared to write a paper addressing the following question: Are you responsible for the life you save?

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