Review: Some (2005)

Directed by:
Cast: ,

Not available in Australia on DVD (to our knowledge)

Take a tense plot with more wrinkles than Yoda, cast actors instead of stars, shoot it with an eye for beauty, ruthlessly edit out every bit of fat, and wrap the whole thing in a hypnotic soundtrack heavy on the drum and bass, and you’ve got Some. It’s a fine, tight, thriller, with high production values and an attention to detail that would make a train-spotter envious.

Director Chang Yoon-hyun, the man responsible for the gristly serial killer flick Tell Me Something, gives us another tense and tortuous film, only this time without the assorted body parts. As with that earlier film, Chang here throws down a few major puzzle pieces early on: a botched drug deal, a detective suspected of the theft, an incriminating photo. He then proceeds to assemble the whole work piece by careful piece, with each revelation leading only to more questions.

And it’s a rivetting film. You may find yourself sitting with your mouth open most of the time, occasionally spluttering “Whut? Whut?” as you try to guess what’s going on. There’s no spare frames, and no annoying red herrings, just mystery and mayhem. In many films, plot is simply an excuse to stick several stars in the foreground for 90 minutes: not in this case. There’s plot running out of every orifice here. And it’s a tight, well-managed plot, too.

The performances and character development support the plot without detracting: there’s no star turns here, and no limp cast members being carried by others. The central character, Seo Yoo-jin (played by Song Ji-hyo), starts out rather irritating (at least to my rather cranky view), but develops well, in a credible progression at odds with a number of stereotypes. She’s also the vehicle for a lot of the tension: she has odd ‘deja vu’ moments, predicting the apparent ending, but these start to diverge from reality, making her (and us) wonder if she can change the outcome.

The cinematography also deserves a mention. Most of the time, it’s subtle but effective, letting the story take the glory. But now and again, there’s a shot of such loveliness that you just sit back and say “Waaahhh”: the car driving into a sudden rainstorm is one such, with slow-motion shots from so many angles you’d think they were trying to sell you something. Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple, particularly as it supports and reinforces the story, and provides a moment of calm in a film that might otherwise make you feel harried.

I can’t go on without mentioning the soundtrack. Once again, as with the cinematography, the soundtrack mostly supports the story without intruding, but occasionally it lets rip in glorious fashion. I like a well-tailored and well-disciplined soundtrack, and the use of high-quality stuff like Massive Attack’s ‘Inertia Creeps’ makes a good soundtrack great.

I’m also surprised at the social commentary present in the story. The twists of the plot are carried substantially by the theme of omnipresent surveillance or communications technology, with far more awareness of recent trends than most film-makers or writers. There’s even a flash mob at a crucial moment, swarming around a tower to chant support for the Korean soccer team before photographing it and dispersing. And while several key moments are observed on the ubiquitous closed-circuit cameras, there’s also a hint to the contrary: that we can no longer trust what the technology shows us, because communications tech is so easily (and thoroughly) subverted.

I’m hard-pressed to find anything to complain about with this film, but if I had to I’d cite the stereotypical youth gang. But even here, there’s an opportunity for the director. The first time Seo Yoo-jin meets one of these guys, he’s at her door and attempting to march right in. She blocks him in the doorway, and holds her ground, despite his repeated attempts to intimidate. Both characters are defying the genre stereotypes here, and it gladdens my grouchy old heart to see it.

So overall, a fine film made by a passel of fine film-makers.

9 eerie forebodings out of 10.
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