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While the destination, as expected, wasn't satisfying enough, the journey was worthwhile. Given its runtime, I was quite hesitant to watch it, but thankfully it paid off well enough. My use of fast forward button was relatively less in this 160+ minutes flick. Not the edge-of-the-seat or 'keeps you guessing' kind of thriller, but kept me engaged more than less.
Just to sum up how awesome this film was, I watched 3 other films on the same day as this one, and there were moments where I started to nod off in each of those. Not in Moss, and that was at least an hour longer than the 3 other films. It's a testament to the strong writing and complex plot, just how well I was emerged in the drama and tension. Moss takes place in a small town which has been specifically built for criminals that really want to rehabilitate. After one of the founders dies, his son comes and suspects foul play. He outstays his welcome and soon starts uncovering secrets of the town. Moss works due to its length. Where other thrillers try and condense the twists and turns and action into 2 hours, they often leave out humanity. Moss has some wonderful examples of humanity and some great characters. Corrupt detectives, suspicious townsfolk etc. All living in the name of justice, but their levels of hypocrisy are the secrets. The film holds up due to a wonderful subplot in which Ryu (the son) must team up with a prosecutor he has disgraced, in order to get to the bottom of everything. This relationship is fun to watch unravel, as they hate each other, but don't resort to annoying, childish, petty mind games. He may have been banished from the city, but the prosecutor is still interested in doing his job. Like many Korean thrillers there is a sense of humor, even at the darkest of times. It's shot beautifully, capturing the calming power of nature and the eerie reclusive feel that comes with it. The exposition scenes can be long and tiring, but they are inter-cut with flashbacks that remind us of the brilliant make-up work on show. A great, reliable, genre piece.
"Moss" is perhaps among the best sinister Korean thriller of all time. While in the first 30 mins or so one may be tempted to think of it as the Korean take of the film noir genre, "Moss" really isn't a noir. The sheer length of 2 hours and 35 mins in total (as opposed to most thrillers that often try to condense it to less than 2 hours) enables it to explore all the themes of secrecy, betrayal, and hypocrisy that runs deep within all of the characters. And the ending comes with a twist, which is sort of an irony somehow.
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