I ended up my week tired, and also frustrated because I haven’t been able to watch a lot of movies. And yesterday, I knew that if I’d put something like Lincoln, no matter how great it is, I would directly fall asleep. That’s why, I chose to put Jang Cheol-soo‘s Korean revenge film, to make sure I’d stay awake.
Bedevilled or Blood Island; the really outrageous story of a women’s moral and physical humiliation.
Bok-nam (Seo Young-hee) is a young woman who lives on the island of Moo-do, near Seoul. However there’s a visible seizure between the city and the primal and rural environment in which she spent her days since she was born. And when her childhood friend, Hae-won (Ji Sung-won), after some work problems, came into the island they grew up in, and after Bok-nam several invitations, the contrast is even more visible.
Hae-won discovered, little by little, how everybody was treating her friend, and how it was completely normal to them, like it was part of a routine. Yet, she never had any courage to fight against injustice, and particularly when it involved men beating women, and this is some trait we learn from the beginning. That’s why, she never helped Bok-nam when necessary, whereas this last one was always there to defend her. A passive and selfish behavior that we’ll despise through out the movie.
Indeed, Bok-nam is beaten, raped, mistreated, and constantly humiliated. How long will she be able to bear all of this treatments? Tic-tac, tic-tac… She’s a time bomb, and we’ll just have to wait until she explode, wait for the straw that will break the camel’s back. And we wish this moment will come soon.
Seo Young-hee knew how to enter the character, and put herself into his shoes, she gave therefore, a really harrowing performance. The evolution of her character’s thinking and behavior, is well explained, and we are assisting to the crescendo awareness of her situation. She needed Hae-won’s help, to escape Moo-do, with her daughter, who’s been “touched” by her stepfather as it has been implied, to go and live in Seoul, as she promised when they were little. But, she refuses to do so, and a little while after that, an event has pushed Bok-nam a little too far, when a understandable craziness seized her.Despite the revenge axis the movie is taking, Jang Cheol-soo is painting the portrait and status of the woman in South Korea, where men seems to have ultimate control. They rule the professional world, therefore, women, to climb the ladder, have to prostitute themselves. Then, it is clearly filmed, and stated by the women of the movie, that they wouldn’t be able to survive without men, and in Moo-do, no education is allowed, so women stay eternal ignorant slaves.
The real horror of all this, is that to the people showed in Bedevilled, it is the major belief, considering as normal, and common.
All those things are presented with a beautiful landscape as a background, offering us some shots worthy of a painting. Nevertheless, it will not cover the awfulness of the story, and the really harsh and disturbing behaviors of the characters. From which several morals will pop out: “never give up on your promises”, “never give up on your friends” and “prevent injustices when you can”.
Being a fan of controversial and hard movies, I would give Bedevilled 3 out of 5 stars, but it is obviously, not a movie to be seen by everybody.
Indeed, it has been showed to the Etrange Festival in 2010, thus, categorized being a movie to be projected to a small and specific part of the population.
Be careful what you watch.