Thursday, July 14, 2005

Out 15 July/3-Iron

The mirror has two faces: 3-Iron

Another superb new release proves that the best of contemporary cinema still is coming from outside the Europe/US axis. Korean director Kim Ki-duk's 3 Iron is a laconic, minimalist which, even though it is nearly entirely devoid of dialogues, mesmerises like the proverbial siren. It's an usual love story with traces of magic realism. Ki-duk wrote the original story and shows he has a very fertile, idyosincratic imagination. He's already getting attention in Europe, having won the 54th Silver Bear Award for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival.

3 Iron is about Tae-suk (Jae Hee), a loner whose hobby is to spend time in empty houses. He goes from door to door and puts up ad flyers on the key holes of each house. He later breaks into the house where the flyer is not removed, assuming that the owner is away. Tae-suk doesn't steal anything. In fact, he repairs objects (clocks seem to be his favourite) and sometimes even does the laundry. He's just a harmless voyeur. The films makes the viewer follow him through a few houses (therefore becoming a voyeur of the voyeur) until he comes across Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon), a battered housewife whose home has become a prison for her. He sees her crying and her busband abusing her. He frees her, they bond and she starts to accompany him on his wanderings through other people's homes, all the while barely exchanging a word.

3-Iron (a golf term; golf is a main motif in the film) is a delicate, crystalline fable about human relations and the magic that can happen when a special link and how a strong link between people can produce magic, not like in the Romantic tradition, but in a more esoteric fashion. But mainly, it's the fact that the story unravels with such economy of signs that makes the film so perfect. Jae Hee and Lee Seung-yeon carry 3-Iron with elegance, subtlety and puerile humour that charms and enchants. 3-Iron is avant-Zen cinema at its best.

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