November 1, 2008

The Humanist: Thick as Thieves, the Thickheaded Ones

The line between tragedy and comedy is a thin one but for some reason it's much easier to cross in a single direction. There are plenty of "serious" movies awful enough to be funny. The horror genre abounds with them. But there aren't many comedies so unfunny, they're downright serious. Which brings us to The Humanist, a comedy-thriller hybrid that broadly indicates "kooky" without ever being so. The problem is probably directorial since the script was co-written by auteur Park Chan-wook. Park never goes for the laugh even when it's indicated. In his hands, lives and stories spin crazily out of control but they feel surreal, not silly; with Park, every crazy step between the accidental killing of a cop and the internal death threats among three friends would've been guided by a lushly filmed fatal determinism. And the extreme violence, especially the flashbacks with kids brutally smashing each others' heads with rocks, would have been gorgeously horrific. Here, in Lee Mu-yeong's hands, the grownup brat (Ahn Jae-mo), the oaf (Park Sang-myeon), and the nutjob (Kang Seong-jin) seem forced to amputate a beggar (Kim Myoeng-su) and rape a nun (Myeong Sun-mi) without real cause. Withhold applause.

No comments:

Post a Comment