Tuesday, October 04, 2005

3-iron (2005)

If Kim Ki-duk's previous Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring was a Buddhist primer, this then can be best described as a koan on celluloid. In following the travails of a nomadic urban monk and an abused young woman he meets, Kim spins a tale of karma and spirituality that becomes accessible even as it twists itself into inscrutable forms. Karma figures heavily in this film's world -- the hero breaks into people's houses and establishes temporary residences, balancing this ostensibly-wrong act by performing menial chores while he's there (cleaning, laundry, et. al); meanwhile, there's a push-pull tension established between intentional (possibly justified) acts of harm and unintentional ones, with the film's two instances of the latter likely being cosmically responsible for the dire straits our hero finds himself in during the film's second half. Through it all is the urge to transcend one's circumstances, whether it be a spiritual transcendence or (ultimately) a physical one. The final scene, in this light, is transcendent in multiple meanings of the word. This film is really very lovely in its careful simplicity, but lest I shortchange it I should also point out that it's often amusing, sometimes darkly so. The absence of dialogue in most scenes, aside from establishing a placidity that exists mainly to be shattered, also brings to the forefront the accomplishments of the film's leads. Most "great" actorly moments involve large swaths of dialogue, so it's a nice reminder, when you see a film like this, what truly good actors can do with a little body language. Good for the head, good for the soul, and entertaing too.

Grade: B+


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