Memories of Murder (Korean thriller)

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Please watch the film.

All hope is lost. Violence has been portrayed for comic effect in films since the advent of films. This film too has several instances where a police officer jumps and kicks people in their face. It is funny in its own way. The film’s title is about murder, it starts with a depiction of murder, yet somehow, to my overly movie-d up mind, it didn’t seem real. It happens with me and I guess, with most of us as well. When you have seen a lot of films, and even made a few, you do not watch it with all your heart. In scenes where a fight is going on, you somehow know that the main character is going to win. We are always hopeful. Even in suspenseful scenes, we somehow know what the next scene is going to be. That is perhaps the reason why most horror movies and thrillers do not work at the box office. I was like that, more so, because my introduction to films was facilitated by Bollywood movies (ninety-seven percent of them are not worth your time by way). Even American films are more or less like that. Coming back to my point, I too was hopeful and after a sad scene, expected the next one to be happy. That was until came across Korean cinema.

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Every frame will take you toward a more depressing, melancholic phase. I will not write much about this film. I am too stunned to write. This film has such a real and heartbreaking depiction of violence that it damaged the hopeful part of my mind. Just like several other Korean films I have seen, this one focuses on violence as well. Making women as the victims, it portrays the mind of a serial killer/rapist and also delves into the investigative process employed by the police.

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It does not get preachy. Nowhere does it preach feminism or say that violence is bad. Heck, in one scene there is a drunken policeman who kicks two women because he is angry. All this film does is portray. It portrays the horror, the grotesque nature of crimes, the aftermath, the effect. While policemen cry, suffer and try their level best to investigate crimes, the criminal goes on to commit more. Each one more brutal than the previous. He does not treat his victims like humans, not even animals, just props.

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Recently, the words objectification, patriarchy, rape, women’s rights etc. are being thrown around so much and so casually, that they have somewhat lost their meaning, their impact. Watch this film, and you will know how bad this world can be. These actors, I don’t know where they come from. Such accurate portrayals, such understated acting. I am dumbfounded after watching this film. Right from the beginning, it grips you and doesn’t let go till the end. You want to avert your eyes, but you can’t.

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There is no poetic justice, no hope, nothing. There are just the facts. This is also one of the most accurate descriptions of how policemen work in smaller towns. All the time, we keep on wondering who might be the killer, who might do such a heinous deed? What must he look like? After a while, we realize, we were looking at the wrong place, with the wrong perspective. Unlike in Hollywood films, where even small cases are investigated by FBI or Interpol, where almost every guy is a hidden CIA agent, this one gets realistic; A bit too realistic to be false.

Take a note of the last scene. It says a lot.

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