Tuesday, June 05, 2007

301/302

By Chris Tsubamoto

Two single women discover disturbing facts about one another in this suspenseful thriller

301/302 (1996)

Starring: Eun-Jin Bang, Sin-Hye Hwang
Directed by: Chul-Soo Park
98 minutes

At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this movie. Sure I read the back of the movie box and had a basic idea of the story line, but there was no way it could’ve prepared me for what I have just seen. I came away from this movie intrigued, frightened, mystified, but best of all, thinking. 301/302 is filmed in Korean with English subtitles, and it is actually one of the very few Korean films that makes its way to the United States. And whoo… is it worth it!

In apartment 301 lives Song-Hee (Eun-Jin Bang), a divorcee who is so obsessed with cooking, that it is all she can relate to. Sex, love, and even her self-esteem are measured by the foods she creates.

In apartment 302 lives Yoon-Hee, a writer who suffers from emotional traumas so severe, that she vomits at the mere sight or smell of food. She also relates sex, love, and self-esteem through food, but in a completely different way than Song-Hee does.

The movie begins with a detective knocking on the door of 301, informing Song-Hee that the tenant of 302 is missing. The two of them begin to discuss the personal life of Yoon-Hee, trying to discover any possible reason why she may have disappeared. As the movie continues on, we begin to learn more and more about the tenants of 301 and 302 through a series of flashbacks and narrations, often times even flashing back from a flash back.

Through these trips into the past, we begin to learn more about both women’s strange obsessions and habits, and discover the events that have molded them into the individuals they are today. We are also able to see the uneasy friendship that the two have created, and the awkward interaction between them.

I really really really want to tell you more about this movie… but I just can’t. 301/302 is one of those movies that you will have to see for yourself, because the plot development and the ending is everything! I’m not sure if this movie is so much a drama than a horror, but it is definitely a psychological thriller. At times the movie is gentle and serene, while at others it is absolutely violent and psychotic. The two actresses give an outstanding performance, and director Chul-Soo Park’s pacing and imagery is excellent!

301/302 won Best Film in Korea in 1995, and was selected as Korea’s 1996 nomination for Best Foreign Film in the Academy Awards. Do not hesitate anymore… go and rent this movie now! I just wish I had seen it earlier..

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