As I mentioned before, the Park Trilogy is do with the exploring of vengeance. Having come away blown by ‘Oldboy’, another was always in the offing.
Chinjeolhan geumjassi or Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (SFLV) is the last of the Vengeance series from Chan-wook Park.
Lee-geum Ja goes to prison for a crime which she may not have done. When she comes out, she revenges herself against the person behind it all the time using the contacts made over the years. It sounds simplistic, but there is more here than one can actually tell.
The idea of this movie is more subtle than Oldboy. While the story is not as twisted, there are common themes. Imagery lies at the heart of understanding it. Where Oldboy had the gritty realistic feel to it, from the music to the overall feel of the movie, SLFV feels like a dream. A vague unrealism is present in every shot.. from the opening titles to the finale sequence of the Lee-guem Ja’s attempt for redemption. The music too.. haunts.. exists on the brink of an undefinable
Comparisons to the brilliance of Oldboy are inevitable.. but the taste the movie leaves lingers again. You keep going back to explore the questions that it forces you to ask.
Performances are once again top-notch. Yeong-ae Lee plays the lead with the mixture of elegance and cold-bloodedness that defines the need for vengeance. The supporting cast, which are more important than my review is letting on, are exactly as needed. Finally, Park. You can see the brilliance of technique in more than one shot.. given the number of striking scenes that stay on after the movie. But he never gives in to the demon of becoming a slave to it, instead seeking to bring out the facets of vengeance, and the final redemption that we seek.
A movie that won’t be understood easily by the average watcher, though. Oldboy fans will, discerning viewers can try to contemplate.
There is a lot more to taking revenge, than simply taking it.