Published May 01, 2005How does one go from a serenely beautiful spiritual allegory to a vehicle for Bud Cort and Sandy Dennis? That's the question haunting 3-Iron, Kim Ki-duk's out-of-left-field follow-up to Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring.
A silent loner roams the countryside breaking into houses to only subtly change them; he finds his mate in an abused and similarly taciturn woman who abandons her abusive husband to raise gentle hell with our hero. Neither of them say a word throughout the entire movie, while various angry homeowners bicker and complain, and ahhh, look at all the lonely people. Our heroes are completely unencumbered by meaning beyond being misunderstood outsiders in a crazy, mixed-up world; their antics are reminiscent of the worst of '70s American counterculture pop, with the added juice of some pseudo-feminism and a couple of po-mo art projects.
Kim is clever enough to fear sentimentality, but not smart enough to actually avoid it, and despite the simple and unobtrusive technique there's no avoiding the fact that he's made the cinematic equivalent of a Ziggy cartoon. As his protagonists romp pretentiously across the bedrooms of South Korea, one grows increasingly impatient with their content-free rebellion, and when their eventual tangle with the law results in the male lead's discovery of magical mime superpowers, you have to throw up your hands in defeat.
Moon-eyed teenagers should get the most out of this thing, though all others are advised to steer clear. Or maybe not. This wispy little movie managed to win a crate full of prizes at Venice, including one from the normally hard-hearted press corps. Don't look at me those Italian subtitles must have been killer. (Mongrel Media)