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[HanCinema's Film Review] "We Will Be Ok"

2015/05/30 | Permalink

Why do you think people make movies, especially on the independent film circuit, where very little money is involved? The real answer will probably disappoint you. To rub it all up in theory, film is a kind of simulacrum that represents the real world but can never in actuality be the real world. Film can be used by filmmakers to pretend that they live in a different world than the one they really live in- typically one where they are more well-liked.

Unfortunately, writer / director Baek Jae-ho happens to adhere to a school of filmmaking that stresses realism over fantasy. So consequently, his movie about making movies, "We Will Be Ok", consists almost entirely of discouraging setbacks. And not even particularly exciting setbacks. Sang-seok (played by Kim Sang-suk) is constantly assailed both by his lack of impressive-looking film equipment and also his own insecurities regarding whether or not he's even a real filmmaker in the first place.

What's especially weird is that Kim Sang-suk appears to be playing the same Sang-seok from "Ordinary Days - 2014", which came out last year with a production team somewhat organized into different roles for "We Will Be Ok". On a basic level of despair this too represents the petty frustrations involved in producing independent films. In trying to present a better version of the reality which does not exist, the characters mainly just succeed in establishing how they're increasingly broken human beings who are becoming less and less capable of comprehending the world except through the lens of film.

I should note that "We Will Be Ok" isn't anywhere near as depressing in action as this review is probably making it sound. There's a constant dry, ironic humor about all of this. It's never really laugh-out-loud funny, but "We Will Be Ok" knows full well it is a movie masquerading as a movie masquerading about filmmaking, that succeeds most impressively when at its most pathetic, begging for probably undeserved attention.

The final act of the film almost perfectly typifies this, especially in the context of the penultimate plot twist. Ultimately, Sang-seok is only able to build up an interesting story...by deliberately being intellectually dishonest. Ironically this is the story he's really wanted to tell all of his life- and it's so incredibly banal that in a perverse way the situation feels more like an accurate representation of real life when in reality it's just a more accurate representation of what the simulacrum of film is supposed to look like.

Yes, this is all rather convoluted but that's just the kind of movie "We Will Be Ok" is. You have to take it or leave it. Note that even though the film's title sounds somewhat reassuring, in Korean it just says "they all died". It's a commentary that makes sense in the contradictory simulacrum of film, and the partially suicidal construct wherein filmmakers sometimes think that they'd be better off dying than producing creative products. It's not something likely to make a whole lot of sense to someone not frequently engaged in that field of thinking. But if you were able to make any sense out of this review, chances are you'll be able to make sense out of "We Will Be Ok".

Review by William Schwartz

"We Will Be Ok" is directed by Baek Jae-ho and features Kim Sang-suk, Lee Hwa, Baek Jae-ho and Kim Tae-hee-III.

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