A Dirty Carnival
Directed by Yoo Ha
, starring Zo In-sung, Lee Bo-young, Nam Koong-min.
Film genre: Noir
Distributed by CJ E&M
A fictional South Korean filmmaker taps the illicit life of a childhood friend for a successful gangster movie, and faces the consequences. The story of a low-level debt-collector who, faced with lack of funds and a sick mother, opportunistically murders his way up the greasy pole, the lead is played by Zo In-seong, one of Korea’s leading actors, who brings real conviction to the role. Both domestically fraught and the epically blazing in equal measure, it covers ground from land-development corruption to the protagonist’s fragile courtship of a girl who works in a bookshop and hates his gangster lifestyle. Running long at 141 minutes, this is ultimately the story of a desperate man trying and failing to understand himself. Like the karaoke that dots the narrative, he is always singing someone else’s song.