January 22, 2011

Lament / Elegy of the Earth: As Queer as a Three-Dollar Bill Named Jong-man

I'm pretty sure Kim Hee-cheol's Lament is a tragic gay love story. But I'm not totally sure. I mean the two main guys never kiss but cute, stupid Jong-man (Lee Byung-hun) who works in a beer hall definitely appears to fall in love-at-first-sight with alcoholic composer Kwang-su (Shin Hyeon-jun) who's just found out that his crazy brother committed suicide. But is it love just because the two guys shack up together in an apartment then move into an abandoned house to escape the cops? or because they run through a field while screaming something about escaping their pasts? or because the composer sobers up and sweetly ties the waiter's tie in the morning? Actually, Jong-man's not a waiter. He's an aspiring actor-screenwriter who videotapes himself engaged in mundane activities like eating and making funny faces before faxing his script -- a Meg Ryan vehicle -- repeatedly to Hollywood. He's a man with big dreams, my friend. As to his crush, Kwang-su would be happy enough to attain more modest goals, like staying out of the hands of the corrupt police force and maybe cuddling with not-too-successful, nearly mute independent business owner Se-hee (Jeong Seon-kyeong) whose music shop is always full of musical instruments but never customers. It's hard to imagine this movie getting many customers either, gay, straight or otherwise!

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