July 17, 2016

Revivre: Who Has Time For a Life?

On the surface, Oh Sang-moo (Ahn Seung-kee) is a devoted husband. When his dying wife (Kim Ho-jung) gets yet another brain tumor, he's the one who shaves her head at home then spoon-feeds her gruel in the hospital. But to a certain degree he's just going through the motions. At the funeral home, he doesn't cry — simply asks his daughter to donate mom's clothes to a charity — and seems more focused on the cleavage of his new coworker Choo Eun-joo (Kim Gyu-ri) than on his dead wife's portrait at the wake. Well, everyone grieves in their own way. Oh does it by cold-bloodedly having his wife's perfectly healthy dog put to sleep shortly after her death. (It was her wish!)

Which isn't to say that Oh is not there for his wife throughout her time of need. He changes her diapers then deodorizes the room, catches her vomit in a pail then wipes off her comforter, takes a Viagra pill so he can get it up when they're having sex. (Although he'll be fantasizing about Choo for that last bit, truth be told.) No one is going to accuse Oh of being a poor caretaker. And how many times can you indulge in emotion when your daily lifting someone up onto the toilet then rinsing off their privates afterwards? Don't you eventually have to detach? Otherwise, there's crazy time ahead.

The casket scene in which the recently departed's daughter (Jeon Hye-jin) and sister (Sin Yeong-jin) make a hell of a lot of noise merely points out that the ones who grieve most effusively may be the people who have been less a part of the dying process, which can prove messy and exhausting? (Did the son-in-law feel anything at all?) Should we really think less of Oh simply because he's answering his cellphone while the casket is being wheeled to cremation? In Im Kwon-taek's Revivre, there's business to attend to as a marketing executive. Who has time for a life?

Baek Sang Art Awards: Best Film and Best Supporting Actress for Kim Ho-jung

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