A Dirty Carnival
2006. Directed by Yoo Ha , starring Zo In-sung, Lee Bo-young, Nam Koong-min, Cert 18 , 141 mins.
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.
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