April 26, 2015

Desire: Don't Say That, Don't Say Anything

To be fair, Desire's failure is in part due to the one tremendous challenge writer-director Kim Eung-soo has presented to his actors. Most scenes have absolutely no dialogue! Because of that, everyone feels stuck in a portentous moment — generally in couples or alone — where they somehow must convey whole worlds of feeling and reams of complicated history through sitting, standing, walking, staring blankly, disrobing, and getting slapped. Do the grunts of sex constitute a conversation? If so, you'll hear a whole monologue during the heterosexual anal sex scene.

So what's the mime show about? Well, Kyu-min (Ahn Nae-sang) is cheating on his wife (Choi Ban-ya) with a male hustler (Lee Dong-kyu) while the wife is cheating with the same hired help. And since everyone's sulking and making long faces— without a therapist in sight — you just know that things will end badly for all, even the neighbor (Jang So-yeon) who — pining on the sidelines — spends most of the movie modeling terrible wigs intended for nightclubs and Halloween. Truly, a wig is worth a thousand words...

As the one with the most screen time if not the most lines, Lee is constantly undressing, getting dressed or showering. Shakespearean verse, this is not. But Lee nevertheless mistakenly opts to let his body do the talking while his face remains a blank. Is he a cipher? Is he mysterious? Nope. One particularly unmemorable sequence has him stripping, covering his genitals with his hands, then putting his clothes back on for no apparent reason except it was in the script.

So what's the climax of this doubly dumb show? I guess it's the dinner party hosted by the philandering couple and attended by the rent boy and his neighbor/date. Furious to see the object of her affections with another FWB who isn't her husband, the wife snatches an ugly wig off her nemesis' head. Tears ensue. Orgasms, however, do not.

Note: A more interesting movie with no dialogue, and sex as its theme: Kim Ki-duk's Moebius.

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