By Kim Tae-jong
Director Park Jin-pyo
's 2005 film "You are my Sunshine
" was the most successful melodrama in history, selling over 3 million tickets.
The seemingly trite tearjerker obtained credibility because it was based on the true story of a man who loves a woman with AIDS. The director's fictional account gave viewers a chance to explore the hidden sides of the story.
But Park's new film, which is also based on a real-life story, isn't as successful, mainly because it lacks cinematic interpretation.
The film, "Voice of a Murderer
", was inspired by a 1991 kidnapping. It remains too faithful to the horrific crime, coming across more like a long reconstructed television crime docudrama. The only difference is that some of Korea's biggest stars are cast in the leading roles.
In the film, Han Kyong-bae (played by Sol Kyung-gu
) is a successful television news anchor whose peaceful life with his wife, Oh Ji-son (Kim Nam-joo
), is crudely interrupted when their 9-year-old son is kidnapped.
Kyong-bae believes that everything will be fine and he will see his son again once he pays 100 million won in ransom. But as soon as the police get involved in solving the case, things don't go as planned.
A bunch of clumsy detectives promise the desperate parents the safe return of their son, but the kidnapper effortlessly outwits the police. One of the detectives is even kidnapped by the criminal.
The kidnapper calls the parents more than 40 times asking, in his cold and emotionless voice, for more money. But after 44 days, the son is found dead on the banks of the Han River. He was killed two days after the kidnapping.
The police have a voice recording, hand-written notes from the kidnapper and a description of his face. But the wanted man disappears.
As the audience already knows the tragic end of the story, the director didn't have many options. He focuses on the realistic portrayal and details of the sensitive story.
Before the ending credits start to roll, the director asks the audience to help capture the kidnapper by introducing the real voice of the murderer and his likeness.
The film strongly advocates extending the statute of limitations on murder cases, and it criticizes the government, which kept offering empty promises and propaganda slogans like the "War on Crime".
However, it is doubtful that many people will pay to watch this horrible story on the big screen, especially since it is the same old news story retold 15 years later.
A dose of fiction is critical to making true stories come to life and creating an enjoyable experience for viewers.
Two and a half stars