Starring: Lee Eol, Gwak Ji-Min, Seo Min-Jung
Director: Kim Ki-Duk
About This DVD
South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk writes, directs, and edits Samaria (Samaritan Girl), an abstract drama told in three parts. In part one, "Vasumitra," best friends Yeo-jin (Gwak Ji-min) and Jae-yeong (Seo Min-jung) work together in a prostitution scam in order to save money for a trip. Jae-young is fatally injured and Yeo-jin carries out her final dying wishes. In part two, "Samaria," Yeo-jin finds all of her friend's old johns, sleeps with them, and returns their money. Then her police officer father, Yeong-gi (Lee Eol), finds out what she's doing. In part three, "Sonata," Yeong-gi attempts to confront his daughter about her actions. Kim Ki-duk won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004.
Religion seems to be on director Kim Gi-deok(b)'s mind as of late. After last year's contemplative "Pom Yorum Kaul Kyoul Kurigo Pom (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring)," which looked at the cycle of suffering from a perspective of a Buddhist monk, Kim layers Samaria, his new film about teenage prostitution, with variations on Catholic concepts of sin and guilt. Unlike "Spring," however, the film doesn't extensively rely on religious iconography to generate meaning. Rather, it's a springboard for what seems a rather personal take on the psychological and moral battles that has plagued Kim throughout his career, always with provocative results.
The moral battleground in this film is a particularly sensitive one _ that of "wonjo kyoje," the phenomenon of older men who pay young high school girls for sex and companionship. Kim begins the story with two students, Chae-yong (Seo Min-jeong(b)) and Yo-jin (Gwak Ji-min), who attempt to use prostitution to pay for a trip to Europe, but who have differing perspectives on what their actions mean. For Chae-yong, who at first is the only one who meets directly with clients, the transactions with the older men are more than about money. Speaking frequently of Vasumitra, a mythical Indian prostitute who used sex to help men gain enlightenment, Chae-yong sees her actions in a spiritual light that appears to her friend So-jin, and to the audience, as misguided. However, after a tragedy befalls Chae-yong, So-jin also begins to use sexual relationships with older men as a way to alleviate her guilt. The troubled girl's actions are overlaid with the notion of penance as well as, strangely, the idea of a Samaritan.
To see the young girls in religious terms, especially as figures sacrificing themselves for the spiritual good of others, is disturbing to say the least. And Kim's presentation of the older men, whose neediness and deceitfulness often contradict the two girls' actions, adds fuel to the moral puzzle rather than explain it. But those who have seen Kim's other films have come not to expect straightforward answers from the controversial filmmaker, who received the Silver Bear for best director at this year's Berlin for the film. Made in 11 days with a minimal budget, "Samaria" creates a tense mood that lets the different trains of thought interact while avoiding making a specific stand. The mood is especially successful in the powerful and painful latter half of the film, when So-jin's father (Lee Ueol) becomes aware of his daughter's actions and responds with an odd combination of forgiveness and revenge.
Director Kim said that "Samaria" is a film worth watching by both parents and children, so he will ask the government to revoke the film's rating banning those under 19 from seeing it. Kim's next work, titled "Yuri," will deal with the story of a Korean girl who is adopted and grows up in Europe.
|Audio Format:||DD 5.1 Surround, DD 2.0 Stereo|
|Video Format:||Widescreen 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)|
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