April 09, 2015

Haemoo (2014)

Haemoo (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Shim Sung-bo
Country: South Korea

Movie Review: “Haemoo”, literally ‘Sea Fog’, is the feature directorial debut of Shim Sung-bo, writer of “Memories of Murder” from the acclaimed filmmaker Bong Joon-ho who reciprocates by co-writing and producing. The screenplay’s strength relies on a love story between a sensitive fisherman, Dong-sik, and a defenseless illegal immigrant, Hong-mae who goes after her missing brother in Seoul. Everything happens on board of the Korean fishing boat ‘Junjin’ whose captain, Kang Chul-joo, made up his mind and resolved to face his ruin, both professionally (low incomes prevent him to keep his boat in times of economic crisis) and in his private life (his dissatisfied wife cheats on him), by taking the risky mission of smuggling a group of people from China to Korea. There’s a sense of fatality present throughout the story and the typical Korean staple of self-destructiveness that almost always degenerates into violence. This aspect is mirrored in Captain Kang’s behavior (the most interesting character in the film) but it’s also showed in a more vulgar way through the remaining irascible sailors who embrace greediness and uncontrollable sexual appetites. Confined to a breathless, nauseous hole meant for fish, tragedy is expected any time for the illegal travelers. The non-static camera moves along from one side to another, normally at the sound of a score that alternates between mildly tense and dramatically gentle. Ironic tones are a constant, even in the most serious occasions, which takes “Haemoo” to the dangerous ‘waters’ of cynicism. The arrival of sea fog intensifies claustrophobia and the story indelibly gains a new dimension with the chaos onboard, ending 30 minutes after with a forceless epilog.

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