Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lady Vengeance (2005)

I've now seen all three of Park's "revenge trilogy" and I'm still sticking with Oldboy as my favorite.  However, although Oldboy had a better story (in my opinion) than Lady Vengeance, this was a much more stylistically beautiful movie with incredible cinematography and daring shots, such as the one with the little girl in the living room of her parents' house (if you see it/have seen it, you'll know what I mean)

Lady Vengeance is the story of Geum-ja, who is known both as "the kind-hearted Geum-ja" and "The Witch."  She was thrown in jail at age 19 for kidnapping and killing a young boy.  She served 13 years in prison, making both friends and enemies along the way.  Essentially, she was planning her revenge all this time, and was alternately forming and breaking relationships with women who could help or hurt her. 

When released from prison, she kicks her plan into motion, all while searching for the daughter she had to give up before serving her sentence.  She gets a job at a bakery, where people are both horrified and intrigued that a child murderer is making their cakes and confections.  Prison has turned Geum-ja cold towards the outside world, and she behaves rudely and disrespectfully to others.  She wears blood-red eye shadow, which causes many to observe that both her style and attitude have changed drastically. 

I don't want to give too much away about the movie.  As with all of Park's movies, there's twists and turns and multiple plot points and it's hard not to reveal too much in a review.  Those unexperienced with Park's prior works may find the first half of the movie confusing.  It jumps back and forth between current life and the people Geum-ja met while she was in prison.  I also felt that Geum-ja had deeper-lying issues than just her quest for retribution.  She had a few scenes where her propensity to violence and anger was uncessary, such as the one outdoors with the puppy.  But I suppose that's all part of Park's storytelling, which often contains symbolism that not everyone (including myself) catches onto.

Overall this is a beautiful and gripping movie.  I would definitely recommend it to fans of Park's other works. However, if you're just getting into them, I would start off with Oldboy.

photo credit