Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: Sin of a Family (2011)

Sin of a Family (Review)
Min Byung-jin/Shin Hyun-joon/2011
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...genuinely humorous during its first half... emotionally powerful during the second."

After discovering the body of a dead autistic boy, detective Jo Chang-shik (Shin Hyun-joon) begins to investigate the strange circumstances of the death...

Sin of a Family is a procedural mystery film. As the plot progresses, the mystery surrounding the boy's unfortunate death unravels, as expected. The plot thickens as Chang-shik and his partners begin to suspect a relative may be responsible for the boy's death. And, as expected, in order to find out why and how, Chang-shik must visit this family's old residents and peers -- he visits this family's past and how they lived with their autistic child. The truth behind the mystery is chilling but honest, and plausible. The climax doesn't hit as hard as it should, but it is still emotionally effective. The ending of the film is a bit of a cliché, but it works -- regardless of how many times its been done before, it works.

Sin of a Family plays out like a traditional mystery film. However, I didn't expect the film to be as funny as it was, particularly the first half of the film. The police are incompetent, but as humorous as ever; some of the humor is black as night, but most is lighthearted. The rest of the film, especially during the second half, is much darker. Not for the sake of being dark, but for the sake of being honest. It really delves into this family's financial issues, as well as their life with their autistic child and two other mouths to feed. The sin of the family, if you will, is much more complicated than you may think, especially how they get to that point and the aftermath. It did have many clichés and character stereotypes, and an underdeveloped subplot, though.

Shin Hyun-joon takes the lead; he's not the most charismatic fellow around, but he plays the character well. The rest of the acting was actually great, as well, especially the child cast. The music isn't memorable, except for the song the family sings, which is very effective for the film and on its own. The film is shot serviceably, not spectacular but not bad, either. I watched the Amazon Prime stream; the subtitles are mediocre and will make you work much of the dialogue out yourself, but it was ultimately understandable. Director Min Byung-jin plays it safe with this film, but delivers a chilling tale, regardless.

Overall, Sin of a Family has its fair share of sins, like its many clichés and stereotypical characters (which i liked, but are there any competent detectives out there?), but the film ultimately works out. The story is genuinely humorous during its first half, and emotionally powerful during the second. You may see the ending coming, but it is still haunting.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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