I expected Kim Ki-Duk'sBreath to cause some kind of stir when it played at Cannes last month. It was the provocative Korean director's first selection in the Official Competition, which normally draws greater critical attention. But it seems that Breath screened and everyone yawned. David Hudson gathered the reactions at GreenCine Daily; the trades were generally positive, if not exactly enthusiastic (Dan Fainaru in Screen Daily: "Works wonders within the minimalist conditions"; Derek Elley in Variety: "Will play best to Kim's existing fan club"; Ray Bennett in The Hollywood Reporter: "Unlikely ... to make much headway beyond those who are already fans"), and Mike D'Angelo of ScreenGrab speculated that it would be memorable only because it's the one in which "his predilection for mute protagonists officially became intolerable even to his fans." In the recent past, Variety film critic Robert Koehler called Kim "South Korea's worst filmmaker"; blogging for filmjourney.org, he wrote that the director "surprised no one -- except perhaps Derek Elley -- with Breath, which was screened and mercifully forgotten."

Mercy, indeed! Reviewing Kim's previous film, Time,Koehler wrote: "As always with Kim, under the frantic and bloody surface, underneath is ... nothing." Kim's films are visually beautiful and told in an indelible narrative style, but are attractive surfaces enough? Some of his work has struck me as thematically repellant (Bad Guy, The Bow, Time), yet the imagery in others (The Coast Guard, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring) has stayed with me for years. Breath features a young married woman who discovers that her husband is cheating on her and decides to have an affair with an imprisoned murderer. Tartan has acquired all US rights. Whenever it becomes available -- most likely direct to DVD -- we can see if the critics are right.
categories Cinematical