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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Perfect Partner": Sexual Taboos that Playfully Please.

2012/03/31 | 7581 views |  | Permalink

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Director Park Heon-soo has constructed a watertight film that shines where any good film should. He tastefully and playfully handles the film's numerous sex scenes as he teases and pleases till the lights come on. This raunchy sex comedy caught me off guard, but aside from the scrupulously edited sex scenes, of which there are a plenty, this provocative piece offers a well constructed story jammed with plenty of good humour within a solid and entertaining narrative.

Kim Yeong-ho plays Joon-suk, a struggling screenwriter/lecturer and single father to Min-soo (Kim San-ho). His son is young chef who is hoping to kick-start his career by assisting Hee-sook (Kim Hye-seon), a renowned professional chef who, like Joon-suk, is struggling to find inspiration in her life for fresh material. Hee-sook is also a single parent and her daughter, Yeon-hee played by Yoon Chae-i, is currently taking one of Joon-suk's writing classes.

So, we have two single parents and their respected offspring entangled in each other's lives. The naïve viewer might project that the parents would get together and, perhaps, their children too, but it's no surprise that Park Heon-soo has something a little more problematic and scandalous in mind. Joon-suk, in a moment of perhaps personal weakness, makes his move of Yeon-hee while Min-soo is seduced by Hee-sook. It's all sorts of wrong and twisted as the director shamelessly has fun with sexual and cultural taboos.

The film does have a rather large number of sex scenes, particularly for a Korean film, but that is not what makes the whole film tick. The complicated tale of love, or lust, being told touches on the overlay between art and sex, with passion being the linchpin between them. Both Hee-sook and Joon-suk are stuck creatively and make their move on their younger, more passionate partners. Their youthful involvement sparks the passion for their art but the conflict comes when the son and daughter feel used and not loved.

The two relationships mirror each other and the transition between them is smooth and well timed. Just when you begin to wonder what's happening on the other side of the fence, Park Heon-soo takes you there and shows you. Not only that, but he has superimposed a number of quirky images to mark this shift that creates a playfully wicked synthesis of ideas and emotions. These usually follow a steamy moment between the lovers, and, for example, when the sound of a fresh lettuce being pull apart follows, you kind have to laugh at yourself a bit as Park pulls you out of the questionable moments he has had you enjoy so much.

The film's fantastic editing is paired with some great composition and cinematography. A lot of play was give to the actor's placement within the frame and their existence in it accents the film's theme of art and playfulness nicely. Just as these relationships are a little off centre, so is a lot of the framing and mise-en-scene. The lighting within is also dramatic and bold, but also shifting and intentionally inconsistent. Soft accents in one scene, and harsh backlights in another, from the film's editing to its art direction and acting, "Perfect Partner" entertains and pleases with its zany sex play and mature humour.

- C.J. Wheeler (chriscjw@gmail.com)

 

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