Real Fiction

Real Fiction


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Ju-Jin is a quiet and repressed artist who tolerates an endless stream of humiliating abuse from customers and street thugs as he sketches portraits in the park. Through an encounter with a dissatisfied customer, he finds himself enraged by the reality of his life and becomes hell bent on tracking down everyone who has tormented him.

Unfortunately for the individuals, the fragile artist will now not accept a simple apology. His rage has awoken the Devil inside, as bloodlust can only be satisfied with blood. Murderous retaliation is the order of the day, as he seeks to wash away the stain on his soul. However, unbeknownst to him, someone is secretly filming his killing spree in all its bloody glory on a hand held camera.

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Ju-Jin is tortured and bullied onscreen by weaker, insecure individuals, who seek comfort in the misery of others, which asks several questions of the viewer. What would it take to reach a breaking point that causes you to act upon your suffering and what consequences would these actions bring, both emotionally and physically?

Nobody goes unpunished. A cheating ex-girlfriend, an impatient customer and an inhumane cop all meet their demise by any means necessary. This brooding, intense almost mute anti-hero is painting a picture solely in blood. Hell hath no fury for a creative force scorned.

Writer/director Kim Ki-duk has a trademark filmmaking style in which actors convey the story and their emotions with little, or no dialogue. I found the narrative scattered, as the protagonist stumbles into different locations to commit brutality without any true explanation.

Shot on DV, the movie looks and feels very real, which I am sure is the intention. American Psycho is said to have been an inspiration, but where that movie had dark black humour, an inventive use of pop culture references and a charismatic lead, Real Fiction was not written by Brett Easton Ellis.

While often surreal and almost intriguing, the film lacks direction. It is an unapologetic look at a man who's been pushed too many times and lost touch with reality. Clearly, Ju is on a quest to discover someone in his life who truly appreciates him and believes, no matter how stable and tough we think we are, nothing and nobody should stop us from pursuing our passions that make us who we are.

Real Fiction does try to be individual, but is devoid of genuine character, lacks adequate supporting roles and contains formulaic adversaries. The ideas are there, but lack expansion. The film comes across as a pre-production workshop, extended into a feature - a mere sketch of a movie, rather than an accomplished portrait ready to hang in the cinematic gallery.

Reviewed on: 05 Dec 2005
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A repressed and bullied street artist takes his revenge.
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Director: Kim Ki-duk

Writer: Kim Ki-duk

Starring: Ju Jin-mo, Kim Jin-ah, Son Min-seok, Lee Je-rak, Kim Ki-yeon, Myeong Sun-mi

Year: 2000

Runtime: 85 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: South Korea


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