Wednesday, 18 May 2016

REVIEW - THE THRONE (LEE JOON IK)


A great historical drama made melodrama by Lee Joon Ik's strong, sensitive film. This is a grand tale of turmoil, its glossy theatricality detaching it from the tethers of accuracy and accountability, thus permitting its rooting in truth to inform the action. The Throne toys with history as the classic films once did, and is mounted as a film of equal import and stature as those films - bold in every regard, brimming over with ferocious emotion that requires every minute of its runtime to fully exhaust. You can't blame Lee for wanting to milk it - this is a plum story, and he's assembled the finest collaborators to help him to tell it. Handsome artistry fills the screen, though it's stately rather than ostentatious; appropriateness aside, The Throne resultantly misses its chance to operate as a perfect synergy of style and substance, the rare film to skim over the former in favour of the latter. It's the cast that truly shines, however, with flawless performances from every last one of them; some, like Jeon Hye Jin and the gobsmackingly talented child actor Lee Hyo Je, are truly astounding in marrying a deep intensity of emotion with the requisite naturalism to prevent the film from spilling over into silliness. Lee manages a similar balancing act throughout, which achieves its purpose, even if it renders the film a tad unremarkable at times. A third act descent into devastating tragedy is quite unforgettable, though, and The Throne entirely earns the extensive duration it takes to resolve a story whose conclusion we thought we'd reached long before. In so many ways, this is a marvellous piece of work.