Thursday, 10 March 2016

REVIEW - COIN LOCKER GIRL (HAN JUN HEE)


Unadorned Korean pulp. There's something quite appealing in absorbing a movie like Coin Locker Girl, allowing oneself to succumb to the simple pleasures of a context-free, largely surprise-free narrative, one that fills up the whole film, placing substance definitively above style. There's also something quite deflating in it, in the acknowledgement that what substance there is here isn't enough, and one yearns for some form of artistic expression amid the smart performances and predictable plot. Coin Locker Girl is a modest film, a small-scale noir suffused with lightness both of tone and of aesthetic, its only stylistic tendencies toward a distinctly modern dearth of them. It's uncomplicated, and unconcerned with the potential pressures of added complications - is it more or less admirable, more or less ambitious when attributed to a first time filmmaker? Han Jun Hee displays a fine handle on all that he turns his hand to, staging violent encounters with adequate verve, and exhibiting a flair for memorable imagery without excessive strain - a flair that he ought to develop further. Whether his achievement in apparent restraint is a sign of a strong sensibility or a sign of a lack of capability is beside the point. Han's film seeks to exist outside of unnecessary analyses of its contents; so too, perhaps, should his technique. If that leaves the professional (or amateur) analyst in a vague state of befuddlement, so be it. Coin Locker Girl is unadorned pulp in its essence, and maybe that's all it needs to be.