Memories of Murder Reviews
Watched this on 11/7/15
Bong Joon-ho directs Memories of Murder with style and delivers the psychological tension of it's characters extremely well. This is easily a staunch masterpiece. The actors do real justice to the film, especially it's two protagonist cops. The film's use of comedy as comic relief is also noteworthy.
Even though I was left underwhelmed by Chan-wook Park's Oldboy, I still had hope for Korean cinema, knowing that maybe if I keep exploring and tasting new films by different directors; I would eventually find one that would suit to my tastes. It was fortunate that it only took two films to find that sense of satisfaction; it was by the mind and hands of Joon-ho Bong, his sophomore feature film Memories of Murder.
Memories of Murder features a strong and appealing premise of a rape-murder mystery set in a local town; two detectives with their own distinctive styles have been chosen to solve the case. It is in the difference of each detective's style that the film manages to be interesting; with comedic touches set by the director in order to let the first hour or so of the film to not be too suffocating with its serious and dire subject. It was through this that the characters were unique, allowing both to stand out from one another and create a sense of clash of ethics and methods, but the film does not resort to the clichéd elevation of internal tension, letting both characters be focused and determined to identify and catch the person responsible for these sickening crimes.
The mystery of the plot itself starts off being a bit slow in exposition, it takes a while for the audience to find something to chew on; it is only when facts start to emerge and solidify their importance to the story, that the film starts to pick up its pace, and create tension; evoking a sense of urgency that is felt both on screen and in ourselves. It is during the final hour of the film that I found myself highly engaged by its mystery and suspense, with comedic elements finally carrying a sense of weight for the characters; showing a sense of desperation, meaning that the case has finally crawled within the inner depths of their souls, becoming an obsession rather than an obligation. It is during this part of the film that the dialogue driven exposition begins to slow itself down, halted by tense chase sequences and big reveals that leaves audiences in a state of exhilaration.
It all builds, brick by brick, to a conclusion that satisfies in a way that one wouldn't expect. It becomes internal rather than external; emphasising the detectives themselves rather than bigger story; it is character development that has slowly been building under our noses, paying off at the end that makes one want to go back and see their entire journey again. The film ends with a final frame that speaks volumes of its ideas and themes; I feel it would be unfair to those who have yet seen the film to divulge these thematic elements, as its exposure may hurt the impact the film would have to surprise and intellectually stimulate. Also it would be better for me to discuss it when I have seen the film multiple times, understanding all the elements that make up the film.
Memories of Murder is a damn near perfect mystery thriller that keeps audiences on their toes and delivering a conclusion that beautifully exceeds one's expectations. This is a film that does not aim to satisfy the immediate desires of its audience, it targets the nerves in our body that find excitement in deep and resonating intellectual and emotional stimulation.
Quite haunting and a bit disturbing as well. Lovely shot, cinematic brilliance really. It's never boring, and the cast is excellent. The three detectives does their job, but the other "filler"-characters is also very enjoyable. It's darn funny at times too, it's an important spice for such a sad, true story.
I won't give away the film's greatest feature, but I can say that it's happening in the very few seconds of the film. Maybe you get it, maybe you don't.
It took me a while (and some reading), but this may be one of the cleverest moves ever made in the histroy of cinema.
9.5 out of 10 murderers.
The two local detectives try to beat confessions out of the most handy suspects. They are not interested in investigating the crimes. One is older and a little brighter. The younger one is a blunt object; and short in the thinking department. Many of their scenes have a comedic element because they are so bumbling and ineffective. The outsider detective, Seo, begins to track the real killer.
We never see the killer clearly as he hunts his victims. We never see the crimes going down. The crime scenes are surprisingly bland. Korean action/mystery movies tend to be very graphic and bloody; not so here.
As more and more victims are murdered, Seo begins to crack. He eventually loses his professional composure. The scene is very well done.
The ending is ambiguous and somewhat unsatisfying.
It was an OK trip to the flics.
Add to that recipe.. a true story!