Be-seu-teu-sel-leo (Bestseller) (2010)
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Audience Reviews for Be-seu-teu-sel-leo (Bestseller)
This Korean supernatural thriller is overly long and unevenly paced but still effective. The story, though not very original, carries the movie through the slow parts. Eom Jeong-hwa does a very good job as the writer with extreme writer's block. The supernatural aspect is a major player, but it is subtly weaved into the plot. There is little blood and even less gore. Worth a watch though.
One line summary: Crazy bestselling book writer struggles with plagiarism charges. --------------------------------------------------------------- The writer Baek is doing well when she gets hit with charges of plagiarism in 2005, then with writer's block. (Or was it writer's block, plagiarism, then more writer's block?) She takes her daughter to a backwoods village, and stays at what used to be a wartime orphanage. The locals say it is haunted by a ghost. The daughter, Yeung-hee, claims to see a friend, but the mother does not see that friend. There are several interludes that seem to be flashback, but are instead reverie, where the writer's concentration on imagination blocks out other events. I found these to be counter-productive; if she's writing in her head, why not do it at the typewriter or computer? Baek has Yeung-hee pinkie-swear that she won't play with her invisible inaudible friend who lives upstairs. Is that going to work? When she throws her laptop on the floor, then stomps on it until it is badly broken, I gave up on this film. Two minutes later, the stomping turns out to be another false scenario that the writer daydreams. Her husband loses a piece of career advancement over her controversy, even though they have long separated. So her support from other people is weakened. Her attempts to write do not go well. She starts pumping her young daughter for details about the stories that her invisible friend keeps repeating. The daughter says she will not, naturally enough. The friend is repetitive and boring as well. The place they are staying at is also being upgraded for other tourists to use, so the locals on are scene. One of these is the son of the 'Sheriff' who more or less runs the town. The father is well-organized, and runs other people's lives. The son is slow (mentally and physically), fat, awkward, entitled, and has little sense of personal boundaries. He's a loose cannon that just about everybody despises. During the period of the refurbishment, we first see that the daughter is imaginary. The writer has long heated discussions with her, but the workers just see a woman getting wild and animated while she's talking to herself. They figure artists just are not like regular folks. So, the writer is delusional, and the real or imagined loss of the daughter has cost her a lot. Why is she left alone? She clearly needs at least nearby professional assistance since she does not seem to be able to prosecute her own life. Watching the nonsense with locked doors and the daughter going missing, then showing up again gets very tedious. The daughter is the muse, I guess, and she tells Baek the story her friend told her. Baek goes on a binge of writing. She takes the end result to her editor who just loves it. The picture should be over. Now and forever. But it goes on. Baek's new book is published and she is quite successful again. Let the horror end. Her book races to the top of the charts and stays there for a while. She's having a relaxing bath with her daughter (hm, still crazy) when the problems hit. Apparently her 2007 book bears a strong resemblance to a book written by someone else in 1992. Great, double plagiarism. She goes home and looks for her daughter in vain. She goes to her ex husband, who of course does not have the dead daughter. A shrink confronts her with the daughter's accidental death. She has difficulty embracing it. Yeung-hee died because she dropped a running hair drier into her bath water while Baek was arguing with someone on the telephone. Guilt, squared and cubed. What to do next? The story of the dead daughter telling her the narrative of the book does not gain much acceptance. Her ex asks her the birthday, the favourite colour, the favourite food of Yeung-hee. Baek does not know. Guilt again. Her publishing house is up for sale because of the scandal. Baek does some digging to find that the person who wrote the 1992 book got the story from his dead wife. Baek decides to solve the riddle involved in that case, which should restore faith and trust in her, and remove the plagiarism scandal. (Really? You've got to be kidding.) Does the second half work, where everything is gone over a second time? Baek definitely stirs things up in the village where the orphanage resides, and real miscreants are not happy with her. Does she prevail against such long odds? She has precious little support, and the only ones with the full truths are the guilty. -----Scores------- Cinematography: 8/10 Exteriors: excellent. Interiors, no so much. Sound: 10/10 Fine. Acting: 1/10 The lead actress is over the top most of the time and convincing very little of the time. The actor who plays the sheriff's son is either a fine actor (like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, 1988) or just the opposite, a non-actor with the character's traits. I think it's the second. The other actors are forgettable, except the fellow who played the husband. Screenplay: 4/10 Solving an old murder cleanses away the new plagiarism charges? No. Her 2007 book came directly from the 1992 book, so the central point of the movie fails. Also, the lead character is certifiably insane and should not have been conducting anything on her own, much less a murder investigation. The horrible consequences of her actions are plenty of proof.
Be-seu-teu-sel-leo (Bestseller) (Jeong-ho Lee, 2010) You've heard this story before: a bestselling author-and we're not talking some midlist honey-of-the-month here, but a real force of nature, an Oprah-book-club-standard billion-seller-is accused of plagiarism in her most recent novel. She strenuously denies the charges, but once you're tarred with that brush, etc. She loses everything-her marriage, her professorship, the works. She has nothing to tie her to her swanky cosmopolitan lifestyle anymore, so she packs up her young daughter and heads for a small town on the coast where she might be able to pick up the pieces of her life, feel normal, maybe even write again. That's where we are when Bestseller begins. The author in question is Hee-soo Baek (Princess Aurora's Jeong-hwa Eom), and unfortunately, her plans start having monkeywrenches thrown into them from the outset; for one thing, rather than finding a town where she can blend into the background, when she rents an old spooky mansion on the outskirts of a little burg, the mayor gets hold of the news and organizes a "welcome to town" party for what he considers their resident celebrity (and-we soon come to find out but come on, this isn't a spoiler-he's already looking at ways to try and cash in on tourism dollars from ex-fans of the author who want to come bask in the schadenfreude of the fallen idol). And the townsfolk are, like townsfolk usually are, kinda provincial, a little suspicious of newcomers. But on the upside, Hee-soo discovers that the house she's renting has something of a dark past, a never-solved mystery just begging for the attentions of a disgraced writer. Never even occurs to her that maybe some of those provincial townsfolk might not want the new girl (of whom, let's remember, they're already kind of wary) stirring up skeletons that have long since drifted to the backs of closets. Bestseller tries to do, and to be, a whole lot of things all at once-a supernatural mystery, a horror movie, a mundane mystery, a chick-flick drama about refinding your voice when you've lost it, a literary thriller. Had it tried to do maybe half those things and concentrated hard enough to do them well, Bestseller might well have been the movie that, no doubt, Jeong-ho Lee thought he was making. (This is a relatively common mistake among first-time writers, and to be fair, it's the best kind of mistake, because it tells us that Jeong-ho Lee thinks big.) And there are a lot of scenes where that slimmer, much better movie finds its way to the surface before getting pulled back down into the roiling waters of the rest of it. Lee is trying to keep too many balls in the air at once, and when he actually manages to do it, he's got a hell of a movie on his hands. Pieces of this are very, very satisfying; about two-thirds of the way through the flick, Lee starts hitting the viewer hard with a series of twists that he's done a very good job setting up, and that they are as effective as they are should be an indicator that this movie has at least worked in parts as we've gone along. Unfortunately, it gets buried under its own weight, but I will hold out hope that Lee has learned from his mistakes, and I look forward to the second offering; it shouldn't take too much honing for Jeong-ho Lee to come up with a real barnburner of a movie, and I think that will happen sooner rather than later. ***
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