Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SBS Capsules: Paju

South Korean melodrama Paju gets off to a rather rough start. It begins with a short prologue set in its seven years later segment before flashing back to its beginning without any hints for the viewer to follow. The odd sense of dislocation engendered persists while Park Chan-ok sets up her scenario - it's a bit of a struggle to infer character relations and scenes don't connect smoothly. I think this rather choppy opening is the result of Park Chan-ok wanting to dispense with the back story as soon as possible and get the meaty stuff. While it's a laudable strategy she probably needs to work on her shorthand.

Having said that once things do settle down and a pattern emerges of a spiral of mistakes and well-meaning but ultimately catastrophic attempts to smooth them over Paju proves to be quite a moving film and even a haunting one.  Albeit one that is somewhat hampered by a context of a struggle against developers. Too often this feels like a misjudged attempt to insert social relevance - the dispute is there but the film really doesn't have a lot to say about it.

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