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But in this dark era in Korea's history, politics and the state not only limit their freedoms, but ultimately push into their private lives as well.An unusual mix of politics and melodrama that ranges from 1980 up until the present day, The Old Garden represents a collaboration between two generations of anti-authoritarian artists: young director Im Sang-soo, known for his filmmaking talent and taste for controversy; and novelist Hwang Seok-young, a prizewinning author who spent the 1980s in exile and then served five years in prison in the 1990s for an unauthorized visit to North Korea.Critics who trashed the film in the Korean press for its obvious faults (myself included!
Although to international viewers it may look like any other really bad Hollywood B-movie, for many Korean viewers it became a source of national pride, since former comedian Shim Hyung-rae was the writer/director, the digital effects were all done in Korea, and the song "Arirang" is played at the end of the film.
Im's adaptation of Hwang's novel of the same name boasts some very strong casting, with Ji Jin-hee maintaining a nice air of unpredictability around the character of Hyun-woo, and Yeom Jung-ah being given the best opportunity to showcase her acting abilities since A Tale of Two Sisters.
The depth of talent in the large cast of supporting characters, many of whom are Im regulars, is also impressive.
Reviewed below: The Old Garden (Jan 4) -- Before the Summer Passes Away (Jan 18) -- Pruning the Grapevine (Feb 22) -- Beautiful Sunday (Mar 29) -- The Show Must Go On (Apr 5) -- Paradise Murdered (Apr 12) -- Driving With My Wife's Lover (Apr 26) -- Bunt (Apr 26) -- Secret Sunshine (May 23) -- The Evil Twin (May 23) -- Hwang Jin-yi (Jun 6) -- The Wonder Years (Jun 14) -- Never Forever (Jun 21) -- Black House (Jun 21) -- The Cut (Jul 11) -- Muoi (Jul 25) -- D-War (Aug 1) -- Epitaph (Aug 1) -- HERs (Aug 2) -- Wide Awake (Aug 8) -- Someone Behind You (Aug 22) -- The Happy Life (Sep 12) -- Happiness (Oct 3) -- Resurrection of the Butterfly (Oct 11) -- Going by the Book (Oct 18) -- Shadows in the Palace (Oct 18) -- M (Oct 25) -- Desert Dream (Nov 8) -- Fantastic Parasuicides (Nov 8) -- Seven Days (Nov 14) -- Our Town (Nov 29) -- Rainbow Eyes (Dec 27) -- Hansel and Gretel (Dec 27). Showing themselves in Seoul would surely result in their capture and arbitrary prosecution on some trumped-up charge, so they split up and go into hiding, with Hyun-woo being put up in a remote cabin by a woman named Yoon-hee.
Yoon-hee is more than hospitable, and very soon the two are sharing a bed and falling in love.
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Its refusal to provide cathartic release is also admirable, given that the film bills itself as a melodrama.