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'Herb' With Strong Scent of Kang

2007/01/11 | 194 views |  | Permalink | Source

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By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

The new film "Herb" revolves around a 20-year-old woman with the intelligence of a 7-year-old. It is about how she learns to communicate with the world, but the film is full of cliches, which could be off-putting to most viewers.

The story develops as you would expect it to, but even with its sudden turns, the film fails to surprise. To make matters worse, it overuses the tearjerker elements.

But what saves the film from becoming a total disaster is actress Kang Hye-jeong's superb performance as a mentally retarded woman.

In the film, directed by Heo In-moo, Sang-eun (Kang) is just an ordinary pretty woman at first glance.

But she celebrates her 20th birthday with a bunch of 7-year-olds and depends completely on her mother's advice to get by in life.

Her body reflects her age, but her mental age is similar to that of a 7-year-old.

She learns about the world in her own way, dreaming of a prince on a white horse coming to take her away, just like in the fairly tales.

It seems that her dream is about to come true when policeman Jong-bom (Jeong Kyeong-ho) enters her life.

But it isn't to be.

Jong-bom, who is first attracted to her because of her appearance, leaves her after learning that she is mentally retarded, and her mother (Bae Jong-ok) is diagnosed with cancer.

Sang-eun learns that the world is different from how it seems in the fairly tales, and she slowly grows up mentally.

The film's message is not properly delivered because the events are too scattered. It's like the director collected all the sad parts in other films and strung them together just to make you cry.

But even with these technical flaws, there is still one strong point _ Kang.

Like the character she plays, the actress has grown up. Her facial expressions and her delivery of her character's joy and suffering demonstrate mature acting. Her performance in the film is memorable and distinguished.

So if you are a fan of Kang, the film is a must-see.

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