Peter Pan Formula


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

This may have Peter Pan in the title, but don't go thinking it is something cute and cuddly for the kids - unless yours have serious Freudian issues.

Teenager Han-soo (Wan On-ju) is having a tough time of it. An expert swimmer, he is under pressure from his coach to make it big nationally, but that is the least of his worries. His mother's attempted suicide has left her hospitalised and in a coma. He has to attend to her to cut costs and also deal with the raft of medical bills piling up. She had left a note telling him where to find the father he has never known, while his over-active imagination enables him to embark on an odd affair with the piano-playing teacher next door.

If this all sounds confusing, it is. Cho Chan-ho's debut feature is bursting at the seams with ideas. From coming-of-age metaphors to cod-psychology, it's all here. And that's the trouble. One minute you're following a quirky plotline about his overbearing coach, the next you're watching an uncomfortable fantasy masturbation sequence, or experiencing the unsettling oedipal overtones of a scene where he gives his mother a bed bath.

There are so many plot strands on the go it is tough to know which to follow. From Han-soo's standoffish relationship with the girl caring for her mother on his mum's ward to the imagined sex acts with his neighbour and a growing relationship with her troubled stepdaughter.

The plot elements also have a habit of fizzling out, as the film zips off on a different tack, which is both confusing and annoying in equal measure. Despite this, there is much to commend. Chan-Ho displays flashes of directorial brilliance, particularly in terms of the relationships between the characters, and the performances are solid. However, the blurring of fantasy and fiction never quite comes off.

Reviewed on: 18 Mar 2006
Share this with others on...
The teenage coming-of-age angst of a prospective swimming champion.

Director: Cho Chang-Ho

Writer: Cho Chang-Ho

Starring: Wan On-ju. Kim Ho-jeong, Kim Ho-jeing, Oh Ji-yeong, Ok Ji-young, Park Min-ji

Year: 2005

Runtime: 109 minutes

Country: South Korea


Sundance 2006

Search database:

Related Articles:

Sundance : Day Two