Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review: Heartbeat (2010)

Heartbeat (Review)
Yoon Jae-keun/Kim Yunjin/2010
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...a heart-pounding and heart-aching thriller."

Yeon-hee (Kim Yunjin), a widowed mother and school director, struggles to find a heart for her daughter's transplant. Meanwhile, Hui-do (Park Hae-il), an inconsiderate and often obnoxious young man, attempts to redeem himself and find out why his mother suddenly fell fatally ill...

Heartbeat continues to follow both lead characters, Yeon-hee and Hui-do, as their conflicts clash. Yeon-hee wants the heart of Hui-do's mother for her ill daughter, while Hui-do wants to keep his possibly-brain-dead mother alive and find out what happened to her. So, they trade blows, in a sense, to see how far each will go to save a loved one. A tale of the human organ trade, a tale of morals, and a pure-breed thriller. This ferociously paced thriller leads to a satisfying ending – it does feel like a cop-out, though, but it is meaningful.

Heartbeat is a heart-pounding and heart-aching thriller. The story is very focused on both of its lead characters and their character arcs. As the story progresses, each character faces a significant obstacle and a possible character change. It's a complicate issue at hand, so that further raises the stakes – it kept me further engrossed and engaged. It doesn't get too political with the issue, but it has some social commentary undertones. Heartbeat is a phenomenal thrill-ride, though, so you don't have to look past the surface. There is also some humor, albeit some very black humor, but it is there.

The characters really take center stage in this film. There are plenty of annoying and infuriating supporting characters, but the main focus is on Yeon-hee and Hui-do. (I'm going to use “it” to refer to the characters from now on to avoid spoilers.) One character was infuriating and often annoying, which caused some frustration on my part – but, it was ultimately understandable. The story felt a bit one-sided due to this character's often bizarre actions, you can say it demonized this character, but, again, it was understandable. In fact, I think it was all done on purpose, and it ultimately achieves its goal. Regardless of how you feel about the characters, whether you agree or disagree with some of the lengths they go to, I think you'll ultimately understand.

Kim Yunjin is fantastic throughout most of her performance; there was one scene that felt way too over-dramatic like it was ripped out of a Spanish television novella, but the rest is great. Park Hae-il also delivers a great performance with an interesting character change. The film is shot beautifully, the camerawork was also as great as it could get. The music, although only playing occasionally, worked well with the melodramatic tones of the film. Director and writer Yoon Jae-keun delivers a powerful film without substituting first-class thrills – really great at building tension and suspense.

Overall, Heartbeat is a vicious thriller. It's atmosphere is incredibly tense and suspenseful... it's almost unbearable! The film really approaches the complicated issue well, and uses it to create a complicated outcome. I think this is a film I won't likely forget anytime soon – that's how phenomenal it is. It's not a feel-good film, though, so be prepared. I was battling between a 9/10 and a 10/10 because of the cop-out ending, but I can't stop thinking about the film, so I’ll give it that benefit. Watch it as soon as possible.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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