January 16, 2022

Village in the Mist: Out-of-Towner Out of Luck

To be honest, Im Kwon-taek's Village in the Mist reminds me exceedingly of the kooky psychosexual movies of Kim Ki-young. This battle of the sexes is so out there that I couldn't separate the social commentary from the sexism. Though nothing is stated definitively, what might be happening is that a townful of women are all getting impregnated by a nitwit vagabond (Ahn Sung-ki) who's the one reliable local sperm source since the rest of the men are impotent because of inbreeding. Struggling between appreciation and resentment, the villagers treat their resident babymaker like a pet in a way that would horrify that ASPCA. They feed him, beat him, taunt him, fondle him, throw rocks at him, work to get him drunk, and try to strip him naked so they can see if he's hung like a horse.

The new teacher (Cho Nam-kyeoung) is perplexed. Not horrified. More curious. Obviously she can't hear the forboding music that's underscoring much of the action. What's going on here, she wonders, as she handwrites letters of longing to a boyfriend who'd rather get smashed with his military buddies then trek out to nowheresville to visit his lady. She never quite puts it together. And once she gets raped, she puts such desires aside. Village in the Mist has her confessing pleasure about her assault but that's PTSD talking. Or male fantasies being projected. Or reprehensible cohorts not calling out the creators on their crap.