February 13, 2011

May Story: National Uprising Is Backdrop for Downer of a Film

In the annals of bad movie history -- a very thick book of small print -- Park Kwang-man's May Story may deserve a page all its own. The nonsensical plot climaxes on a rooftop where one moody terrorist (who mistakes a memorial parade for the actual conflict it's commemorating) goes suicidal while his female accomplice screams regretfully after supplying him with weaponry stolen from the blank-faced cop who loves her. The performances though less extreme are nevertheless extremely bad. As a gun-crazed femme fatale bored with running a roadside chicken cafe, Jang Se-yoon is so affected in front of the camera that she can't even pick up a stick without "acting" it out. Her two male leads have the courtesy to fail each in his own way: As the lovestruck officer, Yang Im-ho is Buddha incarnate, projecting a complacent stillness, often inappropriately. As the politicized kook, Kim Yoon-seong starts out cool then ends up a heap of histrionics. Add murky cinematography, pointless parade footage, and tediously long sequences that depict Soon-ji (the title character and an alternate title of the film) silently washing her hair or running down a road and you suddenly realize May Story subscribes to the "waste-not want-not" school of film making. No dialogue is too inane; no shot is too dark; no sequence is too inconsequential. The one thing left on the cutting room floor is the future careers of those involved.

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