Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

"Pluto is an oddly funny film - inhabiting as isolated a world as its titular celestial body."

A young boarding school student - Yu-jin - is murdered. Fellow pupil June's phone is found at the scene, making him the prime suspect in the murder investigation. Without compelling evidence to keep him, the detectives are forced to let him go. Other rich parents pull strings, so their kids can avoid questioning. The head teacher doesn't express concern and the murder is brushed under the carpet. Anything to keep the ridiculously well-funded school running.

Winding the clock back, June is a bright pupil and gifted in science - but he doesn't fit in. He studies astronomy, arguing effectively with his teachers, with some reticence. "Theories don't matter if you die" argues Yu-jin. An amorous blindfolded trust exercise leads to June's brutal humiliation.

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Pluto is an oddly funny film - inhabiting as isolated a world as its titular celestial body. One student complains bitterly at his interrogation, "If this interferes with my grades, I'm suing."

This is the central conceit, with impulsive, vindictive and fearsomely intelligent kids running rampant, dutifully ignored by the grown ups for fear of ruining the school's grades. Also ignored is enough large scale petty crime to bring a small city's police force to its knees.

With the help of Su-jin - a girl distinctly unbothered by all the preening prestigious nonsense - June uncovers a murderous and ubiquitous conspiracy within the school. What do they teach at those Special Classes, which turn out top 10 students bleakly akin to the pod people from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers?

Others do what they must to join the top 10. Tactics include stunningly expensive celebrity tutors, incapacitating and stunting others' grade work, and sharing answers. And lots of bloodshed and nitroglycerin.

"We don't let just anybody join our group?" "Why not?" "You have to be crazy."

This debut feature by Shin Su-wong has been directed with consummate style and more than a little wit. The story is a ridiculous conceit - presented with smarts and skill, with superior world building to draw us into the dark satirical fantasy. It's an audacious and entertaining premise, given life and verve, building to a conclusion that's smart and wonderfully demented.

Reviewed on: 19 Jun 2013
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A boy works hard to try and enter the elite class at his school, but is kept out by a brutal clique.
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Director: Shin Su-won

Writer: Su-won Shin

Starring: David Lee, Sung June, Cho Sung-ha, Kim Kkob-bi, Kim Kwon

Year: 2012

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea

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