Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
This erotic drama follows bad boy director Jang Sun Woo's controversial Bad Movie (1997), a gritty, documentary-style look at Seoul street kids which featured such taboo themes as drug abuse, casual sex, and prostitution. Based on the banned book Tell Me a Lie by noted novelist Jang Jung Il, the film tells of the obsessive, sadomasochistic relationship between a young high school Lolita named Y (Kim Tae Yeon) and a renowned, married, 38-year-old sculptor named J (Lee Sang Hyun). Y's best friend has a crush on the sculptor but is too shy to act on it. At first, Y takes the initiative on her friend's behalf, but she soon finds herself attracted to the man. Keen to lose her virginity before graduation, Y willingly surrenders every orifice to her experienced lover. Though the post-coital conversation is warm, J is nervous about being seen with the 18-year-old Y, still considered a minor in Korea. When J reveals his proclivity for whipping, what began as a page out of Nabokov evolves into something out of the Marquis de Sade. With surprising passion and endurance, Y submits to being flogged with rubber hoses, wire hangers, and tree branches. After a three-month stay in Paris with his wife, J returns to his young mistress, now a college student. This time, J suggests that the roles be reversed. The initially reluctant Y soon lustfully takes to the role of dominant. Things get complicated when Y's conservative family gets wind of the affair, and Y's motorcycle-driving brother torches the sculptor's studio. Y withdraws from college and the two become sexual vagabonds, going from motel and motel with only a few articles of clothing and a suitcase full of flogging equipment. Though at first such hedonism seems liberating, soon insecurities, doubts, and a longing for stability creep into their bliss. Jang's confrontational, though oddly touching, film features fearless performances from first-time actors Lee Sang Hyun and especially Kim Tae Yeon, both of whom act in the buff for much of the movie. In as conservative a society as Korea, where 15 years ago a bare belly in the movies was considered racy, this film courts the same fate as Nagisa Oshima's erotic masterpiece In the Realm of the Senses (1976), which garnered critical praise abroad while never having an unexpurgated version screened domestically. This film was screened at the 1999 Toronto Film Festival.
artist, obsession, sadomasochism, schoolgirl, sculpture, sexual-attraction, virgin, crush, fire
High Artistic Quality