Sunday, December 24, 2006

Paradise Villa

One of the films I screened for Asia Shock but didn't review was a South Korean film called Paradise Villa (2001). I didn't consider it shocking enough to merit entry in the book, but nevertheless it has it's own unique charms. Essentially a slice-of-life film, the story takes place entirely within an apartment building (presumably in Seoul). For those interested in contemporary Asian culture, the film offers an intriguing fly-on-the-wall look at average Korean folks enjoying a weekend watching sports, drinking, screwing, visiting each other and generally relaxing. Eventually there is killing.

The film moves between a variety of characters and follows them as they interact with one another. Some know each other, some don't. The various plot strands intertwine, and a couple of them end in bloodshed (an accidental murder, a psychotic young man with a knife), but the whole affair is so low-key that the carnage is as matter-of-fact as watching the soccer match on telly. It is this deadpan, existential vibe that makes Paradise Villa an engaging experience. However, if you're not expecting it, looking instead for a more conventional slasher flick (as the film was marketed) you might be disappointed and a little bewildered.

So be advised. Enjoy Paradise Villa for what it is: a dispassionate look at the whole spectrum of human activity, from enjoying drinks with friends to deciding what to do with the dead body in your living room. People get up to all sorts of stuff, and there's a bit of everything in this film.

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