Korean Cinema is one of those areas which I have yet to completely explore. Thanks to the Brutal thrilling Korean classic Oldboy, came out in 2003, I got highly excited about exploring the Korean world continuing my journey with this incredible film: Memories of Murder.
Memories of Murder, based on a true story, is a crime thriller set in the late 1980's. Two rural cops and a special detective from Seoul try hard to search for the killer who ruthlessly rapes women, especially on rainy nights a factor that probably excites him. The film shows us the usual cat-and-mouse chase. Though it's not an experience that cliched thrillers gives, just running around here and there...
What mostly bothers me are the subtitles in any foreign movie. The way you have to look down every time while missing all the action even on a small scale might distract you. Memories of Murder is one of those foreign films where the above factor just doesn't completely apply. Some of the best scenes of this film happen in silence. There are truly great examples of camera work in this film that includes the dry but powerful cinematography, few but effective Steadicam shots and of course the direction. Like in one scene when the lead Detective comes to inspect the first crime scene (also filmed in one continuous shot), they find a shoe print nearby on a small road as an evidence. Suddenly, a tractor comes out of nowhere and ignoring the Detective's cries ("No Stop!") it goes over the evidence smudging the entire print. This is one particular scenario which was shot with such realism that you connect yourself with the movie and become a part of it. I don't care how simple or complex the scenes are, the most vital property of any good cinema is that it should allow you to become a part of that experience. Even sounds are important in this film. Can't explain that in detail but you will notice it once you have seen it. The acting too is superb, as always in any great film. The way they interrogated brutally or researched or sometimes were very impatient was captured again in a realistic ways involving attention seeking performances.
Memories of Murder though doesn't concentrate much on the murders, it kind of gives more attention to the emotional aspects of the characters involved in the case. Hence, the name. When you say Memories of Murder it refers not only to the ones solving the case but also the ones who were the victim of this brutality. The film truly goes more beyond the thriller part and at the conclusion of the film, no one will deny that they had watched something different. The downside is that it takes little patience to watch the film and the film's ending is not that easy to take in. Still, I am highly impressed by the different style of film-making of Koreans.
In conclusion, Memories of Murder is a realistic document of the incident, not like some Hollywood flicks that put in some spice like an exit line just after a kill or the hero walking away from an explosion. If you are a good lover of cinema, this will hardly disappoint you. There is one thing I have learned so far in Korean thrillers: Always expect the unexpected. Just in case of this film, it comes out in a very subtle manner...
Have a nice day and take care.
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