25th January 2013
ANOTHER’S NEST <1982>– directed by Lee Gi-hwan. Starring Kim Mi-sook as Soo-hee , Ha Myeong-joong as Byeong-no and Ahn Seong-ki as Min-wook. Running Time: originally 105 minutes–see below. Originally released on November 20, 1982>
Soo-hee wants a baby more than anything in the world. She is not feeling fulfilled as a housewife and has filled her side of the bedroom with baby dolls..the larger of which she knits clothes and booties for. Her husband, Byeong-ho has filled his side of the room with cacti, a symbol of the fact that he is unable to father a child. This unfortunate condition constantly preys on his mind and he searches desperately for a cure through both ordinary channels and the extreme, like drinking fresh snake’s blood. He clearly loves his wife and sympathizes with her desire for a family. He tries to distract her by providing her with anything she wants..new clothes, a beautiful, modern apartment.. to no avail. Whenever Soo-hee sees children at play, her mind wanders away and she becomes sullen and distant. This distance is growing into an insurmountable gulf with her husband and Soo-hee is soon seeking attention from men outside of the home…and with one man in particular..Min-wook. The two meet with growing frequency and both start to become careless in keeping their relationship a secret from Byeong-no. One especially close call sends Min-wook out of the window on a tiny ledge some 10 or 12 stories above the ground.
This narrow escape does nothing to diminish Min-wook’s desire to be with Soo-hee and he all but confesses to Byeong-no that he has been sleeping with his wife. Soo-hee, for her part, becomes cold and suspicious towards her husband, creating scenarios in her head in which her jealous husband murders both herself and Min-wook. Then one day, Soo-hee’s prayers are answered when a visit to her doctor confirms that she is pregnant, but when she tells her husband it does not have the desired result. First of all, she is no longer in love with Byeong-no and the thought of raising a child with him no longer interests her. Secondly, it makes Byeong-no very suspicious of his wife’s behavior. Despite all the treatements and tonics he has been trying, Byeong-no knows that he will never be able to father a child and he starts paying closer attention to what his wife is up to. Her late night disappearing act from the home is no longer going unnoticed and Byeong-no eventually learns the truth about his best friend and his wife. Rather than confront the pair, he starts playing mindgames with them like frightening his wife with a box of snakes. His torment of Min-wook is a little more serious when he nearly has him crushed under a hydraulic press they are working on.
Although Soo-hee never learns of her lover’s near-death experience, she begins to fear for both of their lives and makes a plan to run away with Min-wook. In spite of some snags along the way, the pair are able to escape and wind up at a seaside villa. There they passionately confirm their love, blissfully unaware that Byeong-no has located them and is on his way for a final confrontation.
It is hard to stay interested in the film when you begin to really hate the main character. Her treatment of Byeong-no was terrible. I am not saying that it was necessary for her to stay with him especially when it is clear that she no longer loves him, but she had no basis for creating scenarios in her head in which Byeong-no is a vicious killer. Also, her motive for cheating was rather shallow. She is bored. She knits baby clothes for a child whom she doesn’t have and stares out the window at the children playing outside her apartment complex. It is also strongly suggested that sex with Byeong-no is not very satisfying as the rather stubby, malformed cactus he is nursing when we are introduced to him not-so-subtly indicates. So she seeks sexual satisfaction outside of the house. Although she is meeting Min-wook from the very beginning of the film, there is no indication that she knows who he is or his connection with her husband. Their secret meetings are done entirely in pitch blackness from the moment she walks in the door of Min-wook’s home. The only way Min-wook learns more about her is by following her out.
Once the two realize that they are connected through Byeong-no, Min-wook seems to take this as a new and exciting challenge. He flirts with danger by strongly dropping hints to Byeong-no about his relationship with his wife. Prior to that, he often filled in his friend and co-worker on his sexual escapades with a mysterious girl. Later, he convinces himself that Soo-hee needs rescuing from her husband whom we have seen up to that point showing nothing but kindness to Soo-hee. In his mind, Soo-hee moves from being a fantasy sexual adventure to a real-life adventure where he must save the damsel in distress. Does he really love her? Despite what he may say to Soo-hee, I think that he does not. Once she becomes available, the adventure will be over. I think it was telling how distant he was during the final, anti-climatic confrontation in which all of Soo-hee assumptions and fears about her husband and what he is capable of prove to be false. By the end, she is free to go with Min-wook and have their child together, but I wonder how long their relationship will last now that it is not forbidden and dangerous anymore. And that is not just because of Min-wook.. even Soo-hee continues with her coy ‘turn off the lights’ game prior to sex, re-creating the atmosphere of forbidden love when it is no longer necessary.
After watching the film, I read what was written about it on the KMDb. To my surprise, there was an extra sentence that implied Byeong-no kills himself, however this does not happen in the movie. I then did some checking and found that a scene had been removed from the original script in which Byeong-no does indeed kill himself after admitting to himself that Soo-hee and Min-wook are in love and that he has lost his wife forever. The version I saw was apparently from the VHS release which was a full 15 minutes shorter than the theatrical release. I, for one, am glad that was left on the cutting room floor when the video version was made. It makes Byeong-no more sympathetic and courageous and less in need of our pity.
Another’s Nest is not available on DVD. I was able to view this film via HanaTV.