Film Review: The Face Reader (2013) by Han Jae-rim

Six years after his final function “The Present Should Go On”, Han Jae-rim managed to make his general third work “The Face Reader”, a interval drama set in the course of the Joseon dynasty, once more starring Tune Kang-ho in one of many main components. Whereas his earlier motion pictures had been definitely praised by audiences and critics alike, his third effort was his most profitable one, each commercially and critically, successful main awards on the fiftieth Grand Bell Awards, the thirty fourth Blue Dragon Awards and the thirty third Korean Affiliation of Movie Critics Awards, to call only a few. Aside from specializing in the facility politics and scheme-making among the many rulers of the time, the story can be a part of a movie undertaking centered round Korean fortune-telling traditions, and was adopted by “The Princess and the Matchmaker” in addition to “Feng Shui”.

“The Face Reader” is screening at Florence Korea Movie Pageant

Expert face reader Nae-gyeong (Tune Kang-ho) lives along with his brother-in-law Paeng-heon (Jo Jung-sek) and his son Jin-hyeong (Lee Jong-suk) within the rural components of Korea, largely remoted from any main settlement, other than a couple of sparse guests wanting to purchase their brushes. Ashamed of his father’s expertise and his incapability to make a dwelling, Jin-hyeong in the future leaves to use to develop into a authorities official. Disenchanted and saddened by the occasion, Nae-gyeong decides to take up a suggestion by Yeon-jong (Kim Hye-soo), a courtesan, to develop into considered one of her important points of interest of her institution. Nevertheless, after an evening of heavy ingesting, the face reader finds out he has been tricked into working virtually all day any longer for each costumer, making little or no cash.

Someday, he managed to assist in a homicide investigation, leading to a unique form of clientele now in search of his providers. In the long run, even King Munjong (Kim Tae-woo) turns into a buyer, demanding the face reader to watch the members of his court docket for doable traitors, who may be trying to kill him or his inheritor to the throne. Whereas Nae-gyeong enjoys the pay as a lot as the very fact of his expertise being appreciated, he quickly finds himself in the midst of an influence play among the many king’s advisor and Prince Suyang (Lee Jung-jae). Additionally, his harmful expertise which may expose the traitor among the many king’s males has come to the eye of many, endangering his life and his son too, who has managed to develop into an official at court docket in spite of everything.

Given the idea of the interval drama, you’ll be able to definitely anticipate the just about unavoidable theme of energy performs and schemes, however Kim Dong-hyuk’s script could supply some stunning twists because the story additionally focuses on the concept of powerlessness and even future. Solely few actors can painting being helpless as convincing as Tune Kang-ho, since his character in “The Face Reader” solely seemingly holds all of the playing cards up his sleeve contemplating his expertise, however finally finds himself a mere pawn in a a lot greater plot which has been deliberate for fairly a while. Just like many the opposite characters who depend on their particular person abilities or their standing, the belief of their powerlessness, expressed via the concept of being blind, turns into one the underlying themes of the function, including to its dramatic influence and suspense.

On the similar time, the idea of face studying turns into a stark distinction to the world of the court docket. As highlighted via the cinematography by Go Nak-seon, it’s a microcosm following its personal algorithm, one which the outsiders, the face reader and his household, neither perceive nor observe, manifesting the social hierarchy of the instances. Incessantly you’ll observe the method of Nae-gyeong studying an individual’s face, judging one’s character and true nature by facial options, just like a Korean model of Sherlock Holmes. The idea in reality and advantage makes him each highly effective and powerless, a harmful paradox in a world the place nobody reveals his/her true face and one that doesn’t have an agenda apart from the aforementioned ideas, thus making himself susceptible.

Whereas its themes, its cinematography and its performances are most definitely top-notch, at a working time of just a little over two hours, Han Jae-rim’s function considerably overstays its welcome. With some plot factors having reached their logical (and emotional) conclusion) earlier than, the ultimate act can be a collage of exaggeration and pathos, with the final quarter-hour simply being the weakest points of an in any other case fairly strong film.

In conclusion, “The Face Reader” is a good interval drama about energy and powerlessness. Han Jae-rim manages to direct a function, which, regardless of some flaws, is splendidly acted and photographed, capturing the microcosm of the wealthy and the highly effective, in addition to their schemes and plots.



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