Seen in Jeonju

Life Track (2007)

15th December 2009

life trackOriginally posted July 25, 2009–Usually, I like to give low-budget, independent films a chance.  I often enjoy slow-moving, introsective films and I do not require a lot of dialog to understand the story. However, that being said, there is slow-moving and then there is stagnant. Life Track by director Kim Kwang-ho unfortunately falls into the latter category. How slow is it?  I fell asleep three times while watching it. I would wake up, go back to where I had dozed off to see what I had missed, and each time discovered that I had missed absolutely nothing.  It wasn’t the fact that there was little to no dialogue. Words are not needed if the actors can convey the story through their expressions or body language. Hell, I’m even happy if there is nice cinemotgraphy and little else to look at and I find old silent movies very enjoyable.  However, the camerawork and scenery in this film are not that much to look at, the actors, with the exception of Jang So-yeon, are not up to the task of telling a story through their expressions and there is no spoken story to fill the viewer in on the thoughts of the characters– the first sentence spoken in the film comes at the 20 minute mark and during the entire film there are only about ten lines.  In brief, I thoroughly disliked this film.

Oh, there are some good points. As I mentioned, lead actress Jang So-yeon does an admiral job. She plays a deaf woman who is unable to speak. We do learn more than halfway through the film that she knows sign language (which is kindly translated for us by subtitles). However, she only communicates this way once in the movie–and it is not even with the man she is living with.  We learn nothing new about her character through her single line. Mostly, she smiles or stands by nervously. Unlike the lead actor, Choi Geum-ho, Jang does convey readable emotions. However, the takes showing her breaking into a grin or feeling uncertain are so long that they lose their impact and the poor actress actually looks pained and uncomfortable with a smile pasted on her face. She is not to be blamed for that situation–it is clearly the fault of director Kim.

Choi is less effective as an actor, but of course that is because he is not a professional actor. I liked the fact that they used an actual handicapped man to play the role of the man who takes in a woman on the run instead of using an actor pretending to be physically challenged.  However, not being a professional, Choi is unable to bring much feeling into his long stares which come across as blank and completely unreadable. I had no idea what he was thinking throughout the film and the choices his character makes near the end came as an absolute surprise–not in a good way, but in a confusing ‘out-out-of-left-field’ kind of way.

The final scene of the film is suitably shocking and definitely caught my attention. But I think the 90+ minutes leading up to it were a waste. The entire movie would have been better as a fifteen minute short than a feature length picture. There were a few other interesting plot points, like what Choi does to the couple in the car, but even that was not developed sufficiently. Another scene that seemed like it was important, the flashback of  young Choi and his mother, left me scratching my head as to what it meant.

I don’t often say this, but I do not recommend this film–even for obsessive collectors like myself. Buy it only if you often have guests who stay too long–pop this in the DVD player and I guarantee that they will be out the door (or comatose) within ten minutes.

Comments are closed.