Friday, 10 October 2014

REVIEW - THE SATELLITE GIRL AND MILK COW (CHANG HYUNG YUN)


The quirky absurdity of Korean animated film The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow makes precious little sense, until it does. Chang Hyung Yun's surreal though simple film is devoted enough to its wackiness to see it through, declining to resolve its curiosities for the sake of merely having resolution. Its simplicity comes from the narrative framework - though embellished most generously by fantastical decoration, The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow is, fundamentally, a very traditional film, adhering to genre structures and even aesthetic conventions. Whether intentionally or not (alas, when do a filmmaker's intentions ever matter that much?), Chang has stumbled upon an unmistakable yet often overlooked feature of romantic comedies and family films - their inherent narrative absurdity, which is thus neatly juxtaposed against his more avant-garde flourishes. These are largely superficial: notions such as a satellite falling to earth in the form of a girl, or a heartbroken boy turned into a cow with a covetable liver are good for a smile, and for some moments of bizarre comedy, but their lasting impact is only slight. So what buoys this short, snappy film is its sweetness, again its devotion to the paths it pursues. Chang makes an occasionally questionable case for weirdness and wonder, but a persuasive one for youthful rom-com set a little askew. The obstructions he obligingly establishes to their companionship do grow tired quite swiftly, but he imbues each step of the road toward romance with a charm that proves delightful as the film progresses. Alas, without this, The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow may have risked tedium, even at its brief runtime. It's only once it stops making precious little sense and starts making precious sense that the film finally makes sense as a proposition at all.