March 5, 2012

My Heart Beats: Feminist Professor Finally Gets Laid

My Heart Beats is a freaky little piece of hypersexual filmmaking. Creepily voyeuristic with a zombie like performance at its center, this oddly heady skin flick is all about a depressed, middle-aged professor (Ryu Dong-sook) who, in the midst of preparing for a feminist class on erotica, decides that she must get into a porno film since she's so desperate to get laid. (That's definitely one way of doing it.) Lucky for her, she's got a sassy old frenemy (Byun Yi-yeon), who runs a video production company specializing in skin flicks. After dieting, exercising, studying the Kama Sutra and punching herself in the stomach to beat out her damned spare tire, this academic is deemed ready to take it off and get it on! Her hobby in humping has begun.

To protect her tenure though, she wears a series of Mardi Gras masks as does her first sex partner (in life and on camera). He's an impossibly hot -- and presumably mute -- young man (One Tae-hee) with many strange scars on his chest, that resemble pink putty leeches. Coincidentally, this masked stud is so many years his on-screen lover's junior that he's actually looking to get into a college to become a professor himself. Call it serendipity. Eventually, I suppose they'll be able to say they've taught each other something deep.

Learning is a painful process, sadly, and since this is basically soft porn with a story, the only happy endings for these characters are the ones captured by the film within the film. Actually, those aren't very cheery outcomes either. But outside the celluloid fantasy, the instructress loses her job, the gigolo loses his heart, and the self-styled auteur (Kang Seok-ho) deciding the camera angles loses his artistic control.

It's worth noting that My Heart Beats is directed by a woman: Huh Eun-hee. Because of that perhaps, there's lots of staring at crotches instead of cleavage, and a couple of minor male characters (Lee Dong-hyun and Ahn Sung-gun) who never disrobe but have killer pecs. Also, the Cinderella-type transformation of the movie's heroine is about an odd duck becoming a more attractive odd duck instead of a bona fide swan. I liked that. I also got a kick out of the fruity symbolism in which the protagonist goes from learning to bite an apple, to learning to share a peach, to learning to give a pomegranate without expectation. Kooky but sweet.


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