November 14, 2016

Entangled: Whose Death Is It Anyway?

What makes for an unhappy family? My relationship to my parents is complicated. One brother I talk to weekly; the other, yearly at best. Both my brothers are divorced with kids. I wouldn't say my childhood was rosy but I wouldn't say it was terrible either. Do most of us see our upbringing as typical despite all the little variations and kinks therein? Be that as it may, the Kims of Entangled are a truly cursed and miserable lot. Even when things are going relatively well at the start of Lee Don-ku's bleak kitchen-sink drama, no one seems even slightly contented although the son-in-law (Song Il-kook) is giving it his damnedest to put on his best face. But as for the anxious mother (Kim Young-ae) who's memory is slipping away, the cranky older daughter (Do Ji-won) who's having a difficult pregnancy, and the youngest (Kim So-eun) who's getting bullied by a tough classmate (Lee Min-ji) at her high school, all three are suffering, suffering, suffering. Or so they think. Because everything's about to go down right the toilet big time. They didn't know how good they had it!

Director Lee is no stranger to grim realities. His previous film Fatal was a despairing look at a guilt-ridden man seeking for redemption from a rape victim. But this time around, he's less interested in seeing how people try to repair the damage they've done (or survive the pain they've undergone) and more committed to showing how much worse things can get. Bit by bitter bit. A series of deaths — one accidental, one suicidal, two intentional — all lie ahead as does insanity, prostitution, corporal punishment, and a bloody nose. Let's just say only one major character survives and the rest are probably glad they didn't. The only "kind" character — a teacher (Kim Geun-young) who brings diapers to the new mom and worries about the younger sister going "bad" — has two scenes I think. They're like little reprieves from all the misery. Not sunshine exactly. Just a lightening of the storm. In life, I guess sometimes that will have to do when gray skies are here to stay.

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