Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:17 pm 
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The fragility of trust

This first feature film uses as its springboard an X-ray photograph of two people caught in the act of having sex, but then spirals out into a story which takes in a talking fish, a relationship breakdown and a series of freak geological events in Seoul. The director is riffing on the idea of how misunderstandings snowball, but, without a solid central idea to anchor the wackiness, the exuberantly nonsensical chaos of this movie is likely to have only niche appeal. - Wendy Ide,[url=""]Screen Daily[/url].

Even the director's name, Yi Ok-seop, will have only niche appeal. However, there is something to be said, from the festival-goer's or cinephile's point of view, for niche appeal movies. They can be excellent palate-cleansers. And though the material here is fragile and lightweight, the thing, for the most part, of youthful ponderings, this is not much different from what Jean-Luc Godard did in his cinema. Yi Ok-seop simply goes her own way. Which is goofier and has less edge than Godard's. This does not have the drive and cohesion of Godard and is a bit on the fey and quirky side. Bit there is a questioning, philosophical quality and the whole approach shows originality.

The subtitle ofMaggie is The Fish Who Saved the Planet. It's a catfish, and it's a voiceover narrator of the film - as a planet-saving fish has every right to be. The action starts at a private hospital that follows rather it's own rules. None of the staff eat at the cafeteria. All go out for lunch. In the quiet, a couple have sex in the X-ray room. The X-ray machine fires off, and shows a couple fucking. Zap! Nurse Yoon Young (Lee Juyeong) believes, erroneously, that it is she and her slacker boyfriend Sung-won ((Koo Kyo-hwan) ) who feature in the now notorious image. Shocked, she goes in next day to resign. But all the staff are taking the day off, except her boss Dr Lee (Mun Sori). Are they all guilty, or are they sick as they tell Dr Lee? The debate that ensues introduces the film's theme of doubt. (There is never any certainty about who was captured in the X-ray.)

From here on the film follows its own jagged narrative line, which wanders from one subject to another. Norse Yoon Young does things and has discussions wTih Dr Lee. Then there's an odd event that produces sink holes all over Korea and Sung-won gets a job filling them, when he loses his ring that Yoon Young gave him. He lies about it to her. Yoon Young agrees to meet with Ji-yeon, Sung-won's (less pretty) former gf. Then there is the strange case of the sinkhole-filling co-worker and the ring. Then Yoon Yeong and Sung-won fight. "Doubt" can also be interpreted as "bad faith," and it can be the element that undermines a relationship.

The momentum falters occasionally here, but this is original, valid work. This is young, questioning, imaginative cinema that has something international about it. The cast members have charm, and that counts for a lot.

Maggie 메기 ,88 mins., debuted at Busan in 2018, winning two awards, and played also at Rotterdam and Osaka, winning best picture at the latter, and Fantasia and NYAF. It was screened at the latter for this review.
A NYAFF showtime: Saturday Jul 13, 3:00pm
SVA Theatre


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