July 32nd (7월 32일) [2010] • South Korea

I was fooled by the poster for this one. Haha. I like black with bluish-purple highlights, and I thought I detected depth in the young woman's eye(s). I thought it might be a dark independent razzle-dazzle where the filmmakers had discovered some no-name young actress with the charisma to carry a film. I thought it might be something like Shiki-Jitsu (Ritual). In some way, it is.

There are LOTS of marvelously colored and composed frames in the film. The cinematography is almost Ping Bin Lee/Christopher Doyle level awesome. This is how it's like Shiki-Jitsu, but it's also the only compelling thing the film has going for it.

July 32nd wears its character development and plot devices on its shirt sleeve. I can handle a little bit of that, but not a whole film. I don't know if it's the script or the acting, but everything comes off like a daytime soap opera with black and bluish-purple mood lighting.

Eun-Soo Park, as a man who spends his daughter's growing up years in jail and attempts to find her when he is let out, does the best Min-sik Choi he can. He even looks a bit like a softer, smaller-headed version of him. If you see the film, the irony of that will not be lost on you. (She's five when he goes to prison, about eighteen to twenty when he gets out (looking exactly the same), and the whole film is predicated on the two of them not recognizing one another, even when they get uncomfortably close to hanky panky.)

Hye-Rim Seong, as his daughter cum prostitute ... I was wrong.

July 32nd is an eye-roller but it's not offensively bad. The production values are top o' the line. Beyond the unremarkable performances of the father and daughter everyone else acts like the way most cops are portrayed in South Korean films: unattractive bumbling idiots. The film's sought after bleakness (and man, does it seek it) is ruined by all these obnoxious low-level Fredo Corleone wannabe (albeit Korean) character choices. I laughed out loud at the really bad guy who limps through the movie as if as soon as someone yells "Cut!" he's going to say "Is this really how you want me to do this?"

I don't know anything about anyone involved in making this film but if I find out who is responsible for the photography I will look for whatever they do next.

Beyond Hollywood seem to like the film.
Director: Seung-Hyeon Jin
Starring: Hye-Rim Seong, Eun-Soo Park, Jeong-Gyun Kim

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