With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, October 01, 2011

ACF 1168: Rolling Home with a Bull

Lee Hyun-soo (left) and Choi Sun-ho
Rolling Home with a Bull / So-wa Ham-kke Yeo-haeng-ha-neun Beop
Directed by Yim Soon-rye
With Kim Young-pil, Kong Hyo-jin, Mek- bo
South Korea, 2010, 108 minutes

Rolling Home with a Bull, also known as “Travel with a Cow,” is a most unusual Road Movie in that it's about a man and his bull.

Choi Sun-ho (Kim Young-pil) is an unmarried man in his late thrities who works on his parents' farm. Educated and a writer of poetry, he's fed up with having to care for and clean up after the family's bull, which is used for plowing the family's hillside fields. He urges that they sell the bull and buy a tractor to modernize their farming, but his father adamantly refuses.

So Sun-ho makes off with the bull in the family truck early one morning, just as his father wakes up, sees what is happening, and gives ineffectual chase on foot. While on the road, Sun-ho hears from Lee Hyun-soo (Kong Hyo-jin), a woman he knew in his youth but last saw seven or eight years earlier. She tells him that her husband Peter has just died in an accident. He joins her at the wake where it's just the two of them. Hyun-soo at times calls Sun-ho "Paul." Seems that at one time all three were good friends and they took on the names of the American folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary. Sun-ho/Paul had loved Hyun-soo/Mary and never really got over the her marrying Peter.

Sun-ho continues his journey, trying to get the best price for the bull, which gets "car sick" and weak from standing in the back of the truck for hours. The grand-daughter of the veterinarian who diagnosed the creatures infirmity asks Sun-ho his family name, then names the bull Choi Han-soo.

Leading Han-soo through the streets of a city
Sun-ho and Choi Han-soo are forced to interrupt their travels so Han-soo can rest periodically, as well as for vehicular repairs and other setbacks. Hyun-soo, dressed in mourning black keeps re-entering their lives, as does a religious personage from the "Oh My God Temple." There are also calls from Sun-ho's father, who calls him a cattle thief and demands that he immediately return home with the bull.

With dream sequences and fantasies, Sun-ho's quest becomes more and more bewildering, and he finds it increasingly difficult to actually sell dear old Choi Han-soo.

Rolling Home With a Bull is an off-beat comedy, to be sure. It's also delightful and touching.

ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, a good, solid film that's well worth a viewing. 

Rolling Home With a Bull was a co-presentation of The Korea Society and MoMA as part of the film series Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today, 2011, which runs through this Sunday, Ocotober 2nd. For the schedule, individual film descriptions, and to order tickets, visit either The Korea Society or MoMA.

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