Chow Yun-Fat Boy Meets Brownie Girl

Film
Wooreong Gaksi, the fairy tale of the pond snail who turned into a dishy young woman and married the hero, is known to everyone in Korea. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what Nam has done to it here: this isn't exactly modernisation, or revision, or even subversion - more a deeply weird teasing out of its implications. The hero Gun-Tae (musician Gogooma, suitably clean-cut), apprenticed to a blacksmith who makes illegal firearms, is hung up on the image of Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo's gangster movies. Brownie, the snail turned human, marries him and becomes a timid domestic drudge. And the village where it all happens is a Korean microcosm, a battleground between the gangster politician Young-Baek and his implacable foe Machine-Gun Granny. Too fey for many adult viewers and too dark for most kids, this pushes Nam's trademark visual extremism a notch or two further up the scale of delirium. Frivolous and serious, kitsch and curiously beautiful. Nam starts to look less like a missing Kuchar Brother than a Korean answer to Guy Maddin.

By: TR

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