I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

No Regret July 29, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 9:00 am
Tags: ,

This movie had been on my radar for a while, ever since JT mentioned it. I finally caught it on Saturday (for those who may be interested, it’s still playing at Laemmle Sunset 5). I can’t write a better synopsis than KOFIC did, so go here for the synop.

I still haven’t made up my mind whether I liked the movie or not. What I do know is it got to me emotionally, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again (I guess that means I liked it, right?). I understand it was quite controversial when it came out. After all, it’s gay-themed and it has some fairly graphic sex scenes. I know filmmakers often argue that the sex scenes they include are required by the story, and I frequently disagree (Lust, Caution, anyone?), but in this case I felt the scenes, which were completely unromanticized, gave the film a lot of raw power. It’s basically a film about despair, about alienation, about crossing lines, and about two people who can never be together. And the filmmakers didn’t hold back.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing a little more detail on why one character repulsed the other so vehemently right away. I don’t think a lot more detail was needed, but a little. I gathered it was partly due to social/class resentment, but I needed it spelled out a little more. And I would have liked to see a little more resolution at the end, although I’m not exactly sure where the two main characters could go next. Maybe that’s part of the point, that it’s not clear where they can go next. All they have is the moment. But I still feel a film shouldn’t end unless the audience has been given at least some inkling of what will happen after the credits roll.

None of that stopped me from finding the film emotionally affecting, though. I’d even say heartbreaking. Its rawness and the sense of alienation it imparted even in the happy scenes will stay with me for a long time.

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6 Responses to “No Regret”

  1. JT Says:

    Hey Raven,

    I had to go back to my own post on this one, but a few comments on the ones you made. I think when Rich Guy repulses the other it’s really Rich Guy pushing away from himself; not being able to accept his own sexuality; and of course, being afraid (as all people are, straight or gay) of falling in love. I think it’s not spelled out because Rich Guy doesn’t really know his own feelings in this situation–it’s all new to him. As for where the characters go next, well, I think no one in Korean society really knows. I think this is the first generation where gay Korean men have been able to explore their sexuality and have a go at a gay relationship. Two guys that I once dated eventually broke things off with me and ended up getting married (and having kids, and coming back to the gay bars and having trysts). But I don’t think the filmmaker wanted to take the story that far–that would have been a different story.

    There is a lot of loneliness among the gay men of Seoul, especially the ones in their 30s–trapped between the freedom they knew in their 20s and the impending gloom of having to live a lie the rest of their lives once they get married. It’s quite a hopeless situation to be gay in Korea unless you’re willing to come out and risk alienating everyone in your family and social circles. I’m not surprised that I’ve met so many gay Korean guys living here illegally in New York City. It’s better than the limbo they’d be inhabiting in Korea.

  2. Raven Says:

    The loneliness definitely came through. And although I might have liked a little more resolution, I understood that the film probably ended the way it did because no one, including the filmmakers and the characters themselves (within the story), had any idea where the characters could go next. In a sense that kind of ending worked. It left everything a big question because, as you pointed out, everything *is* a big question.

    What I really wanted to know was why Poor Guy repulsed Rich Guy. Poor Guy seemed to have accepted his sexuality. After all, as an orphan he didn’t have much to lose if society turned its back on him for being gay. Yet he took an immediate dislike to Rich Guy even when the guy was just drunk and hitting on him fairly harmlessly, before he knew what the guy’s business position was.

  3. JT Says:

    Well, I can’t speak for male prostitutes out there, but from the ones I’ve spoken with and had the chance to befriend, I know that they do not like being treated like they are a piece of property. One can argue that a prostitute gives up certain “rights” when he sells his body for sex; on the other hand, a “good” client knows not to be demeaning, or hurtful or superior. (One can argue that clients who pay for sex aren’t any better than the ones who are selling it.) I think Poor Guy thought Rich Guy was taking certain liberties because he was rich (he was driven to a rich neighborhood.) We had the benefit of knowing that Rich Guy was just a lonely, confused person; in the movie, Poor Guy doesn’t have that insight at that point, so repulsing the Rich Guy did seem like the right thing to do.

  4. Raven Says:

    True… I hadn’t looked at it from the piece of property angle. Even when Poor Guy was still just a driver I could see why he might feel Rich Guy was treating him as if he owned him just because he’d paid him.

  5. demonwolfie Says:

    where can I watch this movie?
    it sounds really intriguing.

  6. Raven Says:

    Netflix has it. Tiger Cinema also has it, and I’d recommend renting it from them if you want the Korean language/English subs combination (note their version is a Region 3 disc). Korean movies from Netflix don’t always offer Korean language as an option.

    http://www.tigercinema.com/films/detail/55027/from_search/

    However, if you’d rather not sign up for a subscription rental service like Netflix or Tiger Cinema, your best bet would probably be to look for a Korean video store in your area. Due to the gay subject matter, they may or may not have it, I would guess.

    If you’d like to buy it, see if YesAsia.com has it.


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