November 3, 2008

Princess Aurora: Mom Fulfills Dead Daughter's Curse From the Grave

I hereby declare the serial kller movie Korea's answer to the American musical. It's a genre that Korean directors constantly reinvent in spectacular ways and one which receives their most lavish attentions. It's also a subset that contains some of my favorite Korean films: Save the Green Planet, Memories of Murder, even the ludicrous Hera Purple. Princess Aurora puts yet another arresting spin on the category. This time, director Bang Eun-jin throws the whodunit aspect out the window and shifts the suspense over to another question: Why doesn't the bible-reading detective (Moon Sung-keun) turn in his dissociative ex-wife (Eom Jeong-hwa) once he's figured out she's behind the gruesome crimes? That it involves their dead daughter is part of the answer; so is plain rudeness. But given that the murderess is caught, convicted and condemned three quarters of the way through the film, you'll have to find your mystery elsewhere at the end. As you're rediscovering it, Bang will tell you the reason behind each death and something less tangible about the pursuit of justice. Sometimes, it's petty; sometimes, it's profound. But Princess Aurora is always exquisitely photographed. As a feature debut, Bang's is an impressive accomplishment.

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