As in Green Fish, Lee uses his protagonist's life as a sounding-board for Korea's modern history - here, the 20 years from the eve of the Kwangju Massacre to the film's present. Twenty years which see Young-Ho (newcomer Sol, electric) turn from a fresh-faced innocent into a self-hating, suicidal jerk via traumatic experiences during his military service and a thoroughly dehumanising stint in the police force. Well aware that his pessimistic analysis of Korea's trajectory could be a pill too bitter for most audiences to swallow, Lee has had the smart idea of telling the story backwards: the film opens in the present and ends 20 years earlier with Young-Ho looking forward hopefully to his future. Thanks to fine writing and performances and subtle use of recurring imagery, the film is dramatically powerful and highly emotive.
Cast and crew