Mi-heun is a devoted homemaker and mother of an eight-year-old daughter, happily married to Hyo-gyeong. However, her whole world shutters when her husband's mistress attacks her in her home, during Christmas. More than physically, this event hurts her psychologically.
Six months later, with their marriage having survived the incident, the family moves to small town in the countryside. Mi-heun however, is not utterly stable, psychologically, and even uses tranquilizers regularly. This tactic eventually leads her to meet the town's doctor, In-gyoo. He is also married, and even more, a womanizer who does not hide the fact, but the two of them eventually have an affair. Mi-heun starts lying to her husband, as she and her lover supposedly play a game where they must not fall in love with each other.
Byeon Yeong-joo directs and pens a film obviously centered on Mi-heun, her psychological state and the reasons that lead her to the arms of In-gyoo. Her perspective is quite evident, as she has her protagonist ignoring every standard of the S.Korean male dominated society, which can justify her husband's action, but not hers.
In that fashion, the film benefits the most from Kim Yunjin's performance, in one of her many roles before international recognition with "Lost". Her transformation from a woman lost and in a state of "hypnosis" to a determined one who ignores everyone around her in order to pursue her affair, is the film's greatest asset. Lee Jong-won is quite good as In-gyoo, in the role of the stumbling block, a man who is cool, smooth and very attractive, until he isn't. Gye Seong-yong is also persuading as Hyo-gyeong, a man helpless in front of his wife's determination.
Apart from the above, though, the film is filled with clichés of the genre, both in melodramatic and romantic terms, with the script following the usual path of the category, particularly regarding the progress of the affair. This trait extends to the many and quite explicit erotic scenes, since they occur in the well-known occasions of a forest, during a typhoon, etc. The same applies to the music, which is chiefly comprised of well-known, classical tracks.
Gweon Hyeok-jun's cinematography is quite good, as he provides many images of beauty, taking full advantage of the scenery in the S. Korean country.
Review by Panos Kotzathanasis
Available on DVD from YESASIA
DVD (En Sub)
Panos Kotzathanasis is a film critic and reviewer specialising in East Asian Cinema. He is the founder of Asian Film Vault, administrator of Asian Movie Pulse and also writes for Taste of Cinema, Eastern Kicks, China Policy Institute and Filmboy. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Panos Kotzathanasis can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[Guest Film Review] "Ardor""
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