Directed by Im Kwon-taek
A middle-aged man who has recently lost his wife to cancer indulges in fantasies about a young woman at his work, in the new film from Korean master Im Kwon-taek.
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★★★½ review by ulunsarang on Letterboxd
죽음을 통해 되살아나는 삶
★★★★ review by phrosen on Letterboxd
Revivre doesn't strictly move one way or the other. It isn't life, starting at a point where the character is youngest and progressing to the end of that character's story. Revivre is life through remembrance, through memories and therefore messy and all over the place. It is also, on paper, absolutely salacious. It is the old man who is head of a company falling in love with a much younger employee. Also the man's wife is dying.
Lack of a straight-forward nature, the confusion of events gives each moment weight, drains it of its sexuality. Ahn Sung-Ki finds himslef lost and alone. His wife is dead or dying for most of the film. The structure is loose enough for hime to find himself caring for his dying wife and also grieving her loss. Amidst this emotionally vulnerable state a young woman enters his workplace and his heart.
At first the connection seems weird and distant, an employer observing his employee, a man newly and freshly in love with a woman he knows he can't ever have, but he can dream. Eventually though there is some commonality in their relationship, some interest on her part.The film's structure betrays and ultimately forbids a relationship between the two. Because any scene could take place at any time it is difficult to say either way what is going on, where they are in their lives, where Ahn Sung-Ki is with his grief.
A life isn't a neat sequence of events. It is confusion. It is disorder. It is an emphasis of different things at differnent times. It is love as well as loss. It is hanging on as well as letting go. It is the right decision, as well as the wrong, though in the moment it is neither. It is gainig and losing amidst an infinite sea of possibilities. It is what is and imagining what could have been.
★★★★ review by Mark on Letterboxd
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the closing gala of the 2014 London Korean Film Festival, and see the 102nd film from Korean director Im Kwon-taek. If there was ever a film to disprove the myth that all Korea is good for is revenge type thrillers, then I would put this one forward. A truly touching and raw film, addressing very human elements on multiple levels.
The film takes place as acclaimed Korean actor Ahn Sung-ki plays Mr. Cho, the director of a cosmetics company, has to balance his hectic workload with his daily support of his wife during her brain cancer treatment. Between all of this, we are introduced to Mr. Cho’s new extremely attractive marketing deputy, Choo Eun-joo (Kim Qyu-ri) who Mr. Cho becomes increasingly infatuated with.
From here the film plays out in the present, situated between a series of flashbacks and fantasy sequences that were fairly simple to follow but perhaps a bit overused. Some of the scenes felt that they were cut short, the emotion and any building tension dropped for the sake of the next scene. However, these are largely unimportant, as the film has more than enough to keep you interested. The scenes involving Mr. Cho’s wife, played by the excellent Kim Ho-jung were immensely hard to watch, and the emotion conveyed between these two felt so genuine and understated that it was some of the most impressive scenes I have seen in Korean cinema.
Preconceived and assumed notions of the motives and feelings of all characters are challenged throughout, and in that respect the film does not play out in a simple way that you might expect. It’s a unique piece of cinema, showing the challenges we face when growing old, the feeling of love and responsibility within marriage and how these are handled when introduced to other factors like lust and temptation, but how everything can shift when faced with life changing scenarios such as Cancer. All of this was handled in a frank and honest way, and if you have experienced any of those aspects in real life, this already quite personal film will hit hard.
★★★★ review by sitenoise on Letterboxd
I generally don't like films that start at the end and then show us what lead up to it. Seems cheap and easy. I also usually really don't like films that run parallel timelines. This film does both of those things. But there is no escaping the quality of this one about a guy who is dealing with his dying and dead wife, and a new robo-babe who comes to work at his office. The biggest quality factor here is Sung-kee Ahn. It's almost impossible to decide if he is a sympathetic character or not. I think I might have given this a 6 right when it was over because it frustrated me, but every time I thought about it after that I inched it up a few decimals. Sometimes quality films have that effect. Gyu-ri Kim as the robo-babe, and Ho-jung Kim as the dead and dying wife are also good. In fact, Ho-jung Kim is extremely good. See how that works? Heck kick this one up to a 8.1/10
★★★½ review by Michael on Letterboxd
An aging executive dealing with the wasting away of his dying wife - a relationship that seems founded on duty rather than love or affection - seems to find some solace in his attraction to an attractive young new subordinate at work. His "overtures" to her are rare, tentative, restrained, respectful, and almost entirely unrecognized, while his duty-bound attention to his wife sometimes looks like heroic compassion.
The fluid chronology is surprisingly easy to follow, revealing the story in a way that evokes feeling in the audience that the protagonist would be loath to display.
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