, 17 Aug 2006
Many times over the last few years I've reiterated my admiration for the new wave of South Korean actors, writers and directors. I'm aware that this may be getting a touch boring but then they will insist on making great film after great film.
Addicted, made in 2002, is no exception. Ho Jin (Lee Eol) and Eun Soo (Lee Mi Yeon) are a married couple in their early thirties living with Ho Jin's younger brother Dae Jin (Lee Byung Hun) as a lodger. One day both brothers are involved in seperate car accidents, Dae Jin in the race he is driving in and Ho Jin in a taxi on the way to that race. Both are sent into comas but only Dae Jin wakes up. However on his return from the hospital he seems different, he takes up his brother's work and pastimes and then reveals that, though it is Dae Jin's body which is back from hospital he is, in fact, Ho Jin.
The supernatural romance concept isn't particularly new, this film has echoes of many others, Truly Madly Deeply comes to mind immediately though here we're not dealing with ghosts. What is different about Addicted is not so much the initial concept as the way it unfolds and keeps you guessing as to the outcome even beyond the final frames.
Much of the film is carried on the shoulders of Lee Byung Hun and Lee Mi Yeon. Byung Hun is simply one of the finest young actors in world cinema besides this he'll be best known to international audiences for A Bittersweet Life or perhaps Park Chan Wook's segment of Three Extremes. Addicted is his finest hour to date, he's absolutely fantastic, playing the subtle shadings of his character and its various incarnations often in silence but always completely truthfully. As great as Byung Hun is Lee Mi Yeon is even better, she's great with dialogue certainly but it's almost more interesting watching her react to others dialogue, witness her flat out brilliant performance in the scene where the man she's known as Dae Jin at last convinces her that he is Ho Jin (it's easier to follow than to write about, I promise). The chemistry between the two crackles, particularly in a lengthy and tender love scene.
Regrettably I can't talk about the dramatic turn of events in the last act. It's something that really could go either way but, for me anyway, it works like a charm and allows director Park Yeong Hoon to play merry hell with the audiences emotions.
Park leaves things unresolved at the end, not in a bad, untidy way, it's simply that he doesn't provide answers as to how the late twist in the tale will be dealt with and this uncertainty is one of the many things that mean Addicted is a movie that if you see it as part of a larger audience you will be talking and probably arguing about and one you'll remember for much longer than most of the present Hollywood dreck which seems to slip from my mind as I rise from my seat.
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