[HanCinema's Film Review] "Time Between Dog and Wolf - Movie"

Director Kim (played by Ahn Kil-kang) is a director who's struggling to fund his next project, or even find much a purpose to anything to life really. He returns to Seokcho in the northeast part of South Korea to deal with some family matters, only to find that everyone there is about as alienated, some even plotting a return of their own to North Korea. It's from this backdrop that Director Kim meets Young-hwa (played by Kim Sun-jae), who like him, seems to be searching for something more than her literal task.


If "Taxi Driver" was an expository film about the Seoul backdrop in the mid-aughts, "Time Between Dog And Wolf - Movie" establishes very similar ennui in South Korea's more rural regions during this same period. That's only really true in the visual sense, though. Director Kim and Young-hwa don't really dislike their work so much as they struggle to see the point of it. They have no solidarity, no friends, and barely any family, most of whom aren't doing much better than they are.

Their constant wandering over the Seokcho snowscape takes on purgatorial qualities after awhile. They're reluctant to go anywhere else mostly because they don't really have to, and as rundown as Seokcho may seem at times, these rundown qualities at least match their mood. As the title implies, "Time Between Dog And Wolf - Movie" has implications of a savage reversion to nature- although the film could just easily be read the other way around, with the two leads becoming dogs better in touch with their humanity.

This alternate interpretation doesn't exactly speak to the strength of "Time Between Dog And Wolf - Movie" though, as the movie is so brief with its exposition and long-winded in every other regard it's often quite difficult to figure out what exactly is going on. "Time Between Dog And Wolf - Movie" is nearly two hours long, which is a bit much for a film where nothing really happens. As much as I enjoy twenty year old winter snowscapes in ramshackle towns, there's not very much connecting material here.

More interesting than the film itself is how it appears to us twenty years later, doomed to obscurity in part because "Time Between Dog And Wolf - Movie" has the bad luck to share its title with "Time Between Dog and Wolf - Drama" although there isn't any relationship between the two. They're just based on the same French expression- entre chien et loup. This was a different time in South Korean culture, when artists were more likely to look to the French for artistic inspiration.

This artistic film trend in South Korea had its moment, and probably shouldn't have persisted forever anyway. To this day, director Jeon Soo-il still makes films, and I can confirm that later projects like "A Korean in Paris" and "America Town" are much better at having actual plots to go along with their dark moods. Still, he's more of a fringe figure now than he was twenty years, which speaks to how grim social criticism has become less chic worldwide than the optimistic kind,

Written by William Schwartz


"Time Between Dog And Wolf - Movie" is directed by Jeon Soo-il, and features Ahn Kil-kang, Kim Sun-jae, Kim Kwi-seon, Yoo Soon-chul, Kim Doo-yong, Choi Yong-seok. Release date in Korea: 2007/06/21.