September 4, 2008

Conduct Zero: When It Doesn't Add Up, That's a Plus

There's something righteously reckless about Conduct Zero, a broad teen comedy that gives every indication of being hastily constructed and cheaply made. Lapses in logic notwithstanding, the movie wins you over because writer-director Jo Geun-shik isn't worried about whether you're going to believe the far-fetched shenanigans of his central character. Instead he's simply staying true to a quirky personal vision that's crudely funny if fairly unfocused. That latter part may be because his vision came unbidden one drunken weekend after which he awakened to discover an absurdly foul-mouthed screenplay, vomit-stained but typed on his bedside table. That it works is partly due to Jo's lead actor (Ryu Seung-beom), whose charming cad implausibly re-evaluates his juvie ways for the love of a virgin classical guitarist. Their romance pans out but then nothing ends the way you expect it to in Conduct Zero. The script has a serious case of Attention Deficit Disorder as it strays from its central story then reverts back to cliche only to misbehave again. Whether Ryu's giving a girl her first kiss or his ex- is picking a fight with a local gang, Conduct Zero never rings false because its reality is so bizarre.

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