The quick-fire reviews featured here are from the Polemics: The Constellation of the Violence Against Women (쟁점: 보이지 않는 – 폭력의 관계구조) section:
Bad Scene (배드신) – 6/10
Bad Scene depicts the story of struggling actress Jin-hong who, due to her 28 years of age, fails to get the part of a high school student. However there is a role in the film suitable for her, but it involves a lot of nudity. Writer/director Jeon Go-woon (전고운) explores the internal conflict of a woman who wishes to succeed yet must use her body to do so, highlighting the serious issue of the physical exploitation of women in the workplace. Yet ironically the strength of the film doesn’t lie in the main story, but in events that surround it. Jin-hong tapes her breasts to be upright and perky, and sexualizes herself in school uniform, even before the nude role is offered. In attempting to prepare for the sex scene, Jin-hong asks a male friend to help but in doing so is almost raped, as he protests that she, “started it.” The psychological and psychical exhaustion she suffers are clear throughout, yet the main problem with Bad Scene is that in depicting her private life the film loses focus on the actual ‘bad scene’ itself and the way women are exploited on camera. A moving and thought-provoking drama that could of benefited from greater focus and/or an extra ten minutes for exploration.
Deviation (도착) – 5/10
Director Lee Min-beh (이민배) explores the ‘male gaze’ and the hypocrisy of masculinity in Deviation. On the subway Su-jin overhears men discussing the leak of a sex tape by a prominent actress, and the rampant misogyny in their ideology as they chastise the actress yet are excited by watching it. However the film then takes an awkward turn as Su-jin visits a police station due to the arrest of her boyfriend, who has been secretly taking pictures of women’s legs. The hypocrisy of the officers is explored as they accuse the boyfriend of perversion yet do so themselves, and make up appallingly sexist reasons for the crime. Much of the running time is spent in the station which is unfortunate, as the conversations are generally pushed too far beyond the realm of believability for it to be of consequence. Yet director Lee does finish on an ironic and pertinent end note, by directly accusing the audience of sexism through the voyeurism of the camera itself, which is a nice touch.
My No Mercy Home (잔인한 나의, 홈) – 7/10
Documentary My No Mercy Home is a powerful viewing experience, as director Aori (아오리) follows the court case of a young woman – nicknamed ‘Dolphin’ – as she sues her father for rape and sexual assault which commenced in the 8th grade. Yet what is truly shocking about this real-life story is how Dolphin’s family accuse her of lying, despite the evidence to the contrary, and ex-communicated by the mostly female members of the family. Technically the film is quite rough-around-the-edges, yet Dolphin’s story is so heart-breakingly sincere that it highly compelling, albeit difficult, viewing. One of the wonderful elements of My No Mercy Home is the emphasis on other women as villains; while the father is responsible for rape, it is Dolphin’s mother, aunt and sisters, as well as an ex-boyfriend’s mother and various others figures, who turn their backs on the truth and Dolphin’s suffering. While it would have benefited from greater technical prowess, the film is a sincere and moving documentary.