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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Film Review: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

"It's all in the eyes..."

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (18)
Dir. Chan-wook Park

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Listen carefully. Everyone make mistakes. But if you commit a sin, you have to make atonement for that sin. Atonement, do you know what that means? Big Atonement for big sins. Small Atonement for small sins.” So sayeth Geum-ja Lee (an excellent Yeong-ae Lee) in this concluding part of the ‘Vengeance Trilogy’ from Chan-wook Park.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is a brutal, compelling and painful film – shot through with beauty and disposable philosophy. It’s not always easy to watch but it’s never less than captivating. The plot goes like this: Geum-ja plans to take revenge against the man responsible for a heinous crime which led to her taking the rap and serving 19 years in prison… And if you ever thought that Prisoner Cell Block H had a handle on a typical female inmate population – Sympathy for Lady Vengeance has a far more eccentric bunch… prostitutes, bank robbers and spies rub more than just shoulders with a chubby lesbian called ‘the witch’ whose sexual demands on the heroine are deeply erm, deep… eweeeuurrgh…

As a parent I was completely sucked in to the ‘this basta*rd must die’ rhetoric – after an especially harrowing scene where the pure evil of the child killing villain is exposed in distressing playback of his child victim’s pleas for mercy (which he used as ransom demands even after he had killed the kids – because he just didn’t like children!?)… But is vengeance the answer? Is it even enough? It certainly makes for good cinema!!

Lady Vengeance is Park exploring his feminine side after the cool Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the intense Oldboy. And for me it was a dead cert hit (the BBC described it as having: “stylish visuals, surreal fantasy, and shocking violence” i.e. ‘just my cup of tea!!’).

All in all Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is a powerful and satisfying ending to a great trilogy… I can’t wait to see what Park does next!!

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (let he who is without sin cast the first stone…)

Darkmatters: H O ME

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