September 6, 2015

Blood and Ties: Daddy's Expiration Date

As a gauge to measure the depth of my love for someone, I used to ask myself: Would I harbor this person if they came to me on the run? What if they had blood or their hands? What if they'd actually committed a murder? The answer to these questions clued me in to how I really felt about a person, family members least when I was bored in the middle of the night with nothing better to do. After all, isn't the midnight hour the time when they'd be most likely to come seeking my help? Writer-director Kuk Dong-suk is posing a similar question in Blood and Dies, which finds its central character (Son Ye-jin) struggling with the possibility that her martyr of a father (Kim Kap-su) may have kidnapped and murdered a child years ago (and involved her in the crime). Should she turn him in? Protect him? Serve him up to her boyfriend (Lee Kyu-han), an aspiring police officer, as a way to finagle a marriage proposal? While she's at it, should she write a story about her dastardly daddy and thereby land a job at the local paper? (Apparently, the job market is brutal for bright students from working class backgrounds.)

As she struggles to answer these and many other questions, time is ticking loudly because the statue of limitations is about to expire for this heinous crime, and at least one detective (Kim Kwang-gyu) is breathing down her neck. The process is further slowed down by this young woman's brain, which appears to be working at a less-than-average speed from the get-go. You know this is a woman who earned her top grades through diligence, not innate intelligence. I, for one, became less concerned with who was guilty and who was not, and more curious about whether the Yogi Berra catchphrase "It's ain't over til it's over" was going to be fulfilled in some weirdly creepy way. Alas, it was not. When Blood and Ties ends, despite the carnage and loose ends, it pretty much just feels "over." Too bad, Kuk didn't get all meta during the credits and circled back to the film within the film, a documentary — heard but never seen — exploring the very case which Blood and Ties is about. That would've been a deft touch.

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