One of the perks of the internet is the ability to view life beyond your immediate surroundings, to live vicariously in someone else’s space through a combination of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook etc etc. My favourite remains though the movies, and in the spirit of transporting myself I decided to watch cinema beyond Hollywood, and here’s one of the better ones out there, ‘Salinui Chueok’ or Memories of Murder, a Korean movie.
Based on a true story of the first recorded instance of a serial killer in South Korea, the movie is based in a small village close to Seoul where a series of rape murders start in 1986. These murders carry on for a couple of years during a period of political upheaval & change in the country. Very different from the Hyundai & Samsung driven Korea of today.
Brilliantly shot, the movie tracks the murders and the three policeman looking into it. All three are completely different characters, achingly fleshed out. Detective Park, the slightly arrogant local cop, his partner Cho Yong, a combative aggressive personality & finally Detective Seo who has volunteered for the assignment, coming in from Seoul. The plot is taut & the other characters flit in & out perfectly…the weary police chief, the police woman consigned to serving tea who then creates the connect between the killer & the victims, the reporters uncaring of the consequences, just looking for the big story, the suspects ranging from the mentally unstable to the chillingly calm, the victims, each of them fitting perfectly in the plot.
For a movie that ends up with the case remaining unsolved, it keeps one interested through out. The inter play between the detectives, the local ones attempting to fabricate evidence against suspects who are obviously not the killers & the city cop who uses logic & numbers to try & find the killer. There is an air of irony towards the end where both the detectives change characters & become the other one. The director, Boon Joon-ho has done a marvellous job of scripting an intriguing time, where Korea was on the cusp of it’s industrial glory, still rooted in tradition & agriculture, his closing scenes reflecting the change in Korea & finally in people.
Like most Korean movies there are strong elements of the macabre & the characters are all real in their actions & emotions, nothing is over the top. As an introduction to world cinema, and more specifically Korean work, this is one of the best to start with.