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Review: Yeon Sang-Ho`s Latest Film Tackles the Subject of Faith

When I saw Yeon Sang-Ho‘s sophomore feature on the list of this year’s BIFF films, it immediately jumped the queue into my priority list. I had seen his first animated feature, The King Of Pigs, at BIFF in 2011 and loved both Yeon’s incredibly realistic animation style and his ability to create characters who straddle the line between good and evil.

When I read the description for Yeon’s newest film, The Fake, in the BIFF catalog, When a man loses his family to the shady priest, he single handedly fights back, I assumed said protagonist would be the one to root for. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Fake revolves around a small village whose inhabitants have recently received government compensation for their property, as their rural village is soon to be evacuated and flooded to make way for dam. Practiced con-man, Choi, has moved in to take advantage of the villagers’ devoutness – and more importantly, their tiny windfall. He has built a church and hired a minister who, while an unwitting participant in Choi’s scam, has a sordid past.

Town degenerate Min-chul, who has just gambled away the money his teenaged daughter saved for college, has a violent run in with Choi at a local bar. He subsequently discovers that Choi is not who he appears to be. Min-chul becomes hell-bent on proving to both his pious neighbors and the police that this supposed house of miracles is, in fact, a house of cards.

With the exception of the unending string of creative expletives that spews from Min-chul’s mouth (which may have only been so amusing because of how extreme they were when translated into English), there is virtually no joy in this film. Despite my penchant for a good anti hero, Min-chul’s behavior warranted not a lick of sympathy from me. Nor did the poor suckers who make up the rest of the ‘good guy’ faction. The story, while well told, lacks the one thing that, to me, is the difference between a good film and a great one – at least one character that I deeply cared for.

That said, Yeon’s examination of human susceptibility to cult mentality in desperate times is extremely thought provoking. Yeon gets an A+ for craftsmanship – he has certainly carved out a distinctive style and voice, and a rare ability for an animator – making the audience forget that they are not watching a live action film.

COUNTRY Korea, South
Date of Production 2013
Running Time 101min

035 CGV Centum City 4 10-04 16:00
224 Community Media Center 10-05 20:00
622 Megabox Haeundae M 10-09 13:30
730 Megabox Haeundae 6 10-10 13:00




About Jen Sotham

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