November 8, 2008

A Bloody Aria: Darwinism for Tenors

Wishful opera wannabe In-jeong (Cha Ye-ryeon) has a hard day ahead of her. Not only will she botch an audition, have her lips licked by a lecherous professor (Lee Beyong-jun), run in impractical shoes on a sandy shore, and witness the senseless beating of a high school student (Kim Shi-hoo) by country bumpkins who will go on to stuff her in the trunk of a Mercedes Benz but she'll have to do most of it without a proper pair of panties. No one ever said a career in opera would be easy in the provinces. Metaphorical to the extreme, Won Shin-yeon's A Bloody Aria is a movie in love with the violence it critiques. Characters rebel against their oppressors then express their undying devotion to the same. Any attempt to call the craziness to a halt will only result in you being punished again severely. The king-of-the-hill plot has a subtext about the dangers of obedience yet it undercuts this commentary by celebrating its most sadomasochistic character (Lee Mun-shik) who likes to get a beating as much as he likes to give one. If there's takeaway wisdom here, it's that you can fight it, you should fight, you will lose, you might as well become a good fighter anyway.

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