April 3, 2008

3-Iron: Return of the Silent Movie

Kim Ki-duk is no lover of dialogue. His favorite characters are the ones who keep their mouths shut. In 3-Iron, he's got two like that. The first (Lee Hyun-kyoon) is a drifter who crashes at temporarily empty apartments where he does the laundry and rigs booby traps. The second (Lee Syeung-yeon) is an abused housewife looking for an alternative to the black eye and the fat lip. Once they've met, they're a match made in heaven. But before earthly bliss is theirs longterm, they'll have to surmount police brutality, an incriminating digital camera, golfing accidents, and all those pesky talkers. For Kim Ki-duk film, there's not dialogue so much as monologues told to those who listen. That the two main characters are both listeners means huge stretches pass by with nary a word. Admittedly, it often feels implausible -- does no one in Korea have friends water their plants when they're on vacation? -- but if realism is your cup of green tea, you're drinking from the wrong pot here. Kim is out to create a shadow universe to ours. That the transient has attained an odd living ghosthood while in prison is a way of saying that maybe reality isn't just the hard facts and the words that describe them. Maybe what's left unsaid is what's important.

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