Tae-suk (Hyun-Kyoon Lee) has no home, few belongings and leaves no mark on the world. Essentially, he has no life, but why would he need one, when he can borrow other people’s for a few days at a time? Leaving pizza menus taped to the front doors of houses and apartments, he establishes who is away for a while, breaks in and makes himself quite literally at home, making a quick exit before the inhabitants come home. But in his latest domestic intrusion, Tae-suk neglected to ensure the house was empty, as abused housewife Sun-hwa (Seung-yeon Lee) is still home, and when she discovers him he flees, but he returns to find her husband not being overly kind to her. Tae-suk lures him outside and pelts him with golf balls, prompting Sun-hwa to run away with Tae-suk, joining him on his adventures.
I’m guessing that the main reason this film was included amongst the hallowed ranks of the 1001 Movies book is due to it’s sense of poetry, and the fact that the two leads barely even utter a sound for the entirety of the film, but the main reason that the film is no longer a part of the book is because it’s all inherently stupid, with far too many plot issues than I can justifiably overlook, and which ruined the film for me.
Let’s start with the obvious. Tae-suk’s plan is to stick takeaway menus to people’s front doors in the morning, and then come back in the evening to see which one’s have been removed. If a menu is still in place, he assumes that the occupant’s are away for a while. Has he never heard of anyone working late? Or popping out for a drink after work, maybe going for a meal, nipping to the shops or even seeing a film at the cinema? And even if the inhabitants are on holiday, he has no idea how far into it they are, other than on the rare occasion that someone’s outgoing voicemail message announces their return date. For all he knows, they’re due back that evening. It’s not the most well thought out of schemes. Also, he puts an enormous amount of faith in sticky tape. I don’t know about you, but I find the stuff to be wildly ineffective in terms of it’s adhesive power, even when not exposed to the elements. And what’s with the woman who was terrified of the missing photo in an apartment she’s never been in before? The ending, too, is ludicrous, and though the final shot is beautiful and pignant, it doesn’t hold up when even the slightest amount of logic is applied, for example, are there no mirrors in the house? But even though the resolution is downright silly, it was still oddly poetic and smile-inducing, in spite of just how ridiculous it was.
Basically, for the most part I found this film infuriating, so much so that it’s quiet beauty and simplicity was almost lost on me, so great was my annoyance level. There was a real sense of inevitability to many of the scenes – I was waiting for the drilled golf ball to come loose, and for the breaking and entering to all go horribly wrong as soon as the elements were established – and even at a scant 88 minutes I was regularly checking the clock. The prison-set scenes were nice, but unless I’m really missing something blatant, I just didn’t get this film. Whilst I appreciated the unspoken romance between the two characters – some things are easier said through looks than words – and the performances cannot be criticised in either case, I just can’t get behind a film with such irritating issues.
Choose life 5/10