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Too Bizarre to Be 'Cute'

2004/11/25 Source

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By Joon Soh
Culture Editor

During the preview screenings for the new domestic film "Kwiyowo (So Cute)", the movie's promotional team was seen handing out shots of soju to those entering the theaters, in order, they said, to get people "in the right mood". Despite the ethical question of encouraging mass inebriation, it turned out to be an appropriate move, because the movie has an off-kilter, bizarre quality that might take some hard alcohol to fully understand.

"So Cute", which competed in the New Currents section for young filmmakers at this year's Pusan International Film Festival, revolves around a group of eccentric and somewhat disturbing characters from society's margins. At the center of it all is Su-ro, played by the director Jang Seon-woo, who is himself known for making uncomfortable films.

An eccentric who supposedly was given supernatural sexual potency when younger, Su-ro lives in an abandoned apartment complex with two of his many bastard sons _ Kaeko (Son Woo), or Dog Nose, a tow-truck driver with questionable morality, and 963 (Kim Seok-hun), a sensitive and shy mechanic with a love for motorcycles.

Soon they're joined by one more son, Kosigi (Jung Jae-young), a slightly dimwitted gangster whose "name" loosely translates to Whatchamacallit, and who possesses a sweet personality as well as a penchant for stabbing people.

Thrown into the mix is Sun-yi (Ye Ji-won), a free and positive spirit and apparently the reason for the film's title. However, viewers may find Sun-yi's personality, as well as the relationships she develops with each member of the dysfunctional clan, more often grotesque than cute.

As can be seen, director Kim Soo-hyeon certainly puts together an odd group of characters, which also includes a pre-teenage girl with a crush on Dog Nose and a pair of pyromaniac kids running around with a can of hairspray. Unfortunately, he also seems content to rely on their oddness to drive most of the film instead of providing an interesting central narrative.

However, like a person who doesn't pass out even after drinking one too many boilermakers, "So Cute" stays engaging and refuses to completely lose the viewer's interest throughout. Much of the credit for that goes to Yae and Jeong, both talented and capable actors, as they keep the movie moving even at its most meandering moments.

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