Heung-Sik Park's The Railroad (2007) is the third film I've seen by this director. Sorry to say it, but it's easily his least.
I loved My Mother The Mermaid, a film echoing elements of Portrait of Jennie, Back to the Future, and Somewhere in Time. When her father goes missing, a young woman travels to the island where her parents first courted and meets a younger version of her mother. Her negative feelings about the woman become more complex as she gets to know her and begins to understand why her mother's ambitions eventually turned to bitterness. Quite a stunning piece with no pretty wrapping.
The director's The Twins (Yeokjeon-ui myeongsu, 05) I only saw because I'd liked My Mother The Mermaid so much. It a silly, uneven comedy involving an ex-girlfriend's revenge on a corporate type (a twin) and a bank robbery. Not my cup of tea. Interestingly, a railway station setting does play a part.
Which leads us back to The Railroad. There are two stories. A train driver (Tae-yeong Son) can't get images out of his head involving a woman who stepped in front of his train. He lives with his father, who is pressuring him to marry, and is having trouble sleeping. The second thread involves a part time university professor (the beautiful Seon-yeong Ahn) whose mother is pressuring her to marry as she dates a married man.
The woman rides the train, but the two don't meet until the movie hits the two-thirds point. They find themselves stuck at a remote train station close to the North Korean border.
What happens to these two is not what you'd predict, but it's not terribly interesting, either. The movie is snail slow. I didn't have too much of a problem with that because I figured it was building to something interesting; that would have rewarded my concerted practicing of patience. Unfortunately, the resolution is slight in the extreme. It ended. I sat there. Went "That's it?" Turned off the TV. Turned off the lights. Went to sleep.
Then woke up and felt compelled to write this review.
Usually I wouldn't write much about a movie I didn't care for. I see heaps of movies that never make it to this blog. There's a good reason for that. Why sing the praises of ho-hum movies? Especially ho-hum movies that don't even have the odd interesting flourish. Well, I did like some aspects of this movie. I liked the plotline involving the suicidal girl. I thought it would go somewhere. It did go somewhere, but not somewhere interesting. I liked the cinematography, too -- especially the night stuff.
Because I like My Mother The Mermaid, I guess I want to repeat the experience. It's a pretty unreasonable expectation, isn't it?
My Mother The Mermaid
The Railroad is one of three Korean films comprising the impressive Independent Film Collection from Fantom Entertainment Group.
The other titles are Boys of Tomorrow and No Regret.
Transfers and presentation are top notch.