Monday, December 14, 2009

3-Iron: Grade B

3-Iron (2004)

Seung-yeon Lee, Hyun-kyoon Lee, Hyuk-ho Kwon; Writer and director Ki-duk Kim. (Korean, subtitled).

A young man (S. Lee) breaks into empty houses in a Korean city and makes himself comfortable for a few days. The owners are away (which he learns from their answering machine message) so he eats their food, sleeps there, watches TV, fixes their broken appliances, waters their plants, does their laundry, then leaves. It’s a neat premise. In one house however, there is a battered woman (H. Lee) who watches him, then confronts him wordlessly. In fact, neither character says a word to each other in the whole movie. (The woman says five words at the very end, but it is ambiguous whom she is addressing). So the movie is almost a silent film, giving it a dreamlike quality.

The young man saves her from another beating by her mean husband who comes home, and she runs off with the young man and joins him in his house-breaking enterprise. Inevitably they get caught when the family comes home unexpectedly. In one case, it is not clear how that problem was resolved, but in another, the young man ends up in jail and the woman is returned to her husband. The ending is not really a proper resolution but is emotionally satisfying. Photography is good, directing is good, and sets are excellent. It’s a beautiful, quiet, romantic story worth seeing. Only the lightweight (even silly) plot detracts from its overall quality.

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