DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GOJITMAL (LIES) (director/writer: Jang Sun Woo; screenwriter: based on the novel "Tell Me a Lie" by Jang Jung Il; cinematographer: Kim Woo Hyung; editor: Park Gok Ji; music: Dal Palan; cast: Lee Sang Hyun (J), Kim Tae Yeon (Y), Hye Jin Jeon (Woori), Kwon Taek Han (Y's Brother), Hyun Joo Choi (G); Runtime: 115; Offline Releasing and Cowboy Booking International; 1999-S. Korea)

 
"I don't get off in watching the leads taking turns whipping each other in different hotel rooms."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The story about a relationship of a cute 18-year-old virgin schoolgirl, Y (Kim Tae Yeon, a fashion model), and a slender married 38-year-old successful sculptor, J (Lee Sang Hyun, a real-life sculptor). Their relationship is an S&M one. It leads to her first sexual encounter, blow job, and getting it up the ass. It leads further to him whipping her as foreplay, and to them reversing whipping roles. It also leads to coprophilia and to murder.

J's aspiring artist wife is abroad in Paris for the last two years working on an art project, which gives him room to act out his fantasies. The explicit sex scenes between the first-time actors appeared to be real and not simulated, and they had some warmth even though the film technique was clinical.

This is mostly a voyeuristic film, which at times provides a few cultural insights into this intensely sexual relationship through J's musings. But it fails to say much, as it more or less covers the conventions of a forbidden relationship between a meek-looking older man having his way with a willing schoolgirl in a uniform. What it is probably doing, in an abstract intellectual way, is trying to say there is no such a thing in a relationship that is right or wrong if the partners agree to it. I have no problem with that, the problem I have is that I don't get off in watching the leads taking turns whipping each other in different hotel rooms.

This film is considered as pornography in South Korea, as it's based on the novel "Tell Me a Lie" by Jang Jung Il. It is very popular in Korea and director Jang Sun Woo (Timeless, Bottomless Bad Movie) seems to have made it as a shock flick to get the attention of the public and the censors.

The film borders on depravity, as after J eats her feces she says "Now I know you love me, no one else would eat my shit."

Y and her best friend, Woori (Hye Jin Jeon), the schoolgirl who introduced her to J, talk about Y's sexual activity and Woori wonders about the whippings as she's shown the welts on Y's ass. But Y is not phased by it, and seems to have entered a relationship that makes her very wet and pleased.

Y comes from a dysfunctional home, where both of her older sisters were raped before they turned 20. Y says to J, "I wanted to choose my first sexual partner."

Y is about to enter college as a statistics major and looks upon this relationship as a temporary lark, while J is more serious about it and at one point asks her to marry him. One of Y's sisters decided to marry her rapist and move with him to Brazil, and her future plans involve seeing her sister in Brazil. Y's motorbike driver brother keeps an eye on her as he's worried she will have the same fate as her sisters, and through Woori finds out about her affair with J. This leads to trouble for all concerned, as in a rage he burns down J's house.

I didn't find the sex scenes particularly erotic, and found most of the film to be boring rather than distasteful. It had a few perverse humorous moments, and the leads were convincing in their roles. But aside from the mere sexual obsession to their relationship and the increased need for whippings to be the most sensual part of it, this plotless tale is limited in what it has to show and tell. It ends with J forced to return to his wife in Paris and return to a more conventional life, even lying about the tattoo he received on his thigh that says "I Love You, Y." Thus, the film's title: which means that his marriage is a lie, the opposite of his truthful relationship with Y.

REVIEWED ON 2/11/2002     GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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