Park Chan-Ok's prizewinning debut has an obvious family likeness with the films of her mentor Hong Sang-Soo. Aware that his last girlfriend left him for the editor of a literary magazine, PhD student Lee Won-Sang (Park, riveting) enters the orbit of his rival (Moon) by joining the magazine's staff. But despite his intense envy of the older man's sexual confidence and general savoir-faire he willingly becomes his all-hours assistant - almost his surrogate son. And then history threatens to repeat itself when the editor casually seduces Sung-Yeon (Bae), a vet and part-time photographer who Lee greatly fancies himself. Park gets inside her protagonist's mind with scary precision, showing how his jealousy translates into both masochistic capitulation to his rival and emotional aggression towards others, especially his naive young landlady Ahn (Seo). The film has structural problems: it loses thematic momentum after the first hour and spends too long dancing on the spot until the remarkably sinister closing scene ratchets the issues up another notch. Fine performances all round, though, and the grasp of male psychology is dazzling.
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