Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Peppermint Candy (2000)

Peppermint Candy (Review)
Lee Chang-dong/Sol Kyung-gu/2000
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"In a sense, it's a very beautiful film."

The tragic life of Yong-ho (Sol Kyung-gu) which leads to his unfortunate suicide...

Peppermint Candy is told in reverse -- starting from the ending. Behaving oddly and erratically, Yong-ho stumbles upon the reunion of his school friends. He climbs up to a train track and, as the train approaches, he witness his life flash before his eyes. As the audience, we witness Yong-ho's tragic life, often filled with self-destructive behavior. And, as the story progresses, we understand why. Yong-ho's life as a businessman, as a police officer, as a solider -- Yong-ho's complicated love life. The ending of the film, or more like the beginning, is poignant yet beautiful; it's an elegantly crafted ending that evokes sadness, and is also very contemplative.

Peppermint Candy is a fantastic character-study and drama. The main focus of the story is Yong-ho and his character. Each event in his life sheds new light, and it's usually tragic. It crafts the character in reverse, which in turn adds a pinch of mystery, too. The story is very bleak and even depressing, but I couldn't help but keep my eyes locked on the screen. In a sense, it's a very beautiful film. It's also very engaging thanks to the unique storytelling. You'll ask yourself why a character would act in such a way, you'll even believe it may be illogical or irrational, but you'll see and feel more as the film progresses. There were some minor issues where some characters aren't fully explained, but those are minor. If you love character-driven dramas, I think you'll love Peppermint Candy.

Sol Kyung-gu is magnificent as the lead. Kyung-gu is very versatile and genuine with his performance. The rest of the acting also felt very natural and genuine. The cinematography is great, and so is the camerawork. The music is superb; I loved the soundtrack, especially during the transitions. The English subtitles have some flaws, but it's mostly competent and understandable. Writer and director Lee Chang-dong is superb; the script is brilliant and the direction is consistent and balanced.

Overall, Peppermint Candy is a very emotional character-driven drama. It's tragic and depressing, but it's honest and genuine, as well. Leading man Sol Kyung-gu's superb acting helps amplify the emotional story tenfold. The few minor flaws in this film can't stop me from recommending this to anyone -- I think it's a genre-defining film that should be watched at least once.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, sex and nudity

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