Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Review: Time (2006)

Time (Review)
Kim Ki-duk/Ha Jung-woo/2006
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...perfect balance between contemplative and meaningful and entertaining and thrilling."

Insecure about her appearance and fearing her boyfriend may leave her, Seh-hee (Park Ji-yeon) undergoes plastic surgery and disappears for six months...

Time continues by following Ji-woo (Ha Jung-Woo), Seh-hee's boyfriend, as he copes with the loneliness caused by Seh-hee's sudden abandonment. Every time he's about to move on, or at least attempt to, something causes it to stop. After the six months pass, Seh-hee (now played by Sung Hyun-ah) reemerges with her new and "improved" face. Now, she begins a "new" relationship with Ji-woo, but finds herself competing with Ji-woo's memories of Seh-hee. Of course, she doesn't tell Ji-woo that she is his ex-girlfriend, Seh-hee -- the girlfriend he still loves and hopes will return. (I'll stop there to avoid spoilers.) A mind-bending, deeply meaningful, and contemplative thriller, Time leads to a wonderful ending -- it's a bit overwhelming and ambiguous if you think of it in a literal sense, but it's more symbolic meaning makes a very moving statement.

Time is one of those films where the less you know, the better the experience. To better explain the story: the first half is really a tormenting mind-game Seh-hee plays on Ji-woo, while the second half reveals the revelation and flips the script. I guess, in layman's terms, it's the story of a psycho girlfriend who goes to extremes to test her relationship. I mean, regardless of her intentions, it's surprisingly effective to see how far Seh-hee will go to manipulate Ji-woo. The drama in this film is masterfully crafted -- it's so exciting, it feels like a thriller. Furthermore, this is probably Kim Ki-duk's most accessible film, without sacrificing his signature symbolism and contemplative value.

Although it can be enjoyed as a dramatic thriller, Time does have deep contemplative value. Also, although much of the film's symbolism and meaning may be open to interpretations, I came upon the following conclusion: Time is statement on contemporary identity issues, crippling insecurities, loneliness, and physical attractiveness in contrast to genuine love. You may get less or more out of it, results may vary. (Let me know your interpretation of the film in the comments section below.)

Park Ji-yeon was great during her short-lived performance -- she's only featured during the introduction. Ha Jung-Woo is great with plenty of charisma. I think Sung Hyun-ah steals the show, though -- definitely a stellar and accurate performance. The casting is all-in-all fantastic. The music matches the haunting mood without interfering. The film is shot very well, it's a beautiful to look at. Writer and director Kim Ki-duk captures the perfect balance between contemplative and meaningful and entertaining and thrilling; you can enjoy it on any level thanks to the perfect direction and storytelling.

Overall, Time is a masterful film. It's a film that has enormous entertainment value on the surface, and great contemplative value when you look beyond -- and it can be enjoyed by either audience thanks to the amazing balance Kim Ki-duk achieves. There are very few minor flaws that hold this film back from perfection, but don't miss it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, scenes of surgery, brief nudity and sex.

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