Sunday, August 27, 2006

Whispering Corridors : Memento Mori
Yeogo Goedam II

Release Date : 1999
Director: Kim Tae Young
Writer: Kyu Dong Min

Cast:
Kim Min Sun ... Min Ah
Park Yeh Jin ... Hyo Shin
Lee Young Jin ... Shi Eun



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Sypnosis:

"The first day a girl is found dead, with her head emptied out. Perhaps she had remembered the truth".


A sequel of sorts to Whispering Corridors, Memento Mori takes place in a Korean girls school where So Min-ah (Kim Min-Sun) discovers a diary containing recorded fragments of an illicit affair. Two fellow pupils - Yoo Shi-eun (Young-Jin) and Min Hyo-Shin (Ye-Jin) - suffer condemnation from teachers and class mates as their lesbian relationship gathers momentum, moving from innocent rooftop encounters to a full-blown public display of affection; at least, for one of the girls.

As a love story, Memento Mori spins a tale of happiness, rejection and, ultimately, a great sadness which appears to reach out from beyond the grave. A passage in Hyo-Shin's diary reads, "You'll die if you stop loving me", and subsequent events do include a death; at least, from one particular viewpoint. Suicide, murder or neither? Perhaps Memento Mori (Latin for "remember that you must die") is a fever dream of longing and regret from the imagination of one of two major performers?

Whatever, this is a film that's rich in characterisation with a trio of near pitch-perfect turns - and also contains haunting, often downright unnerving imagery: a trapped bird fluttering round a classroom, acting as a premonition for an imminent night of terror; half-glimpsed figures that haunt the rooms and corridors of the school; an empty swimming pool painted with crosses that may acknowledge the five deaths we are told have previously occured ( a 7th will, apparently, result in the school closing) and there's an Argento-esque nightmare to endure when the rain finally arrives and the entire school is 'sealed off' from the world outside.

Simply brimming with visual metaphors, Memento Mori's literal slant only touches briefly on the relentless pressures of the Korean system of learning, electing instead to examine its fallout: peer pressure, forbidden same-sex love , teacher/pupil relationships and the eternal shame attached to the act of suicide on both sides of the divide.
On a horror/cult movie level, it combines the hallucinatory horros of Repulsion with Lynch-ian flourishes that reside in a Pandora's Box where the past and the present are as one.


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photo credit : mandiapple.com

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