With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

ACF 1629: HELPLESS - movie review

 Helpless / Hoa-cha
Written and directed by BYUN Young-Joo
South Korea, 2012,  117 minutes
Where: Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 Street, NYC
Map here


JANG Mun-ho (LEE Seon-gyun), a successful veterinarian, is driving his fiancé GANG Seon-yeong (KIM Min-hie) to meet his parents. They stop at a service area rest stop, and Mun-ho gets out to get some coffee. When he returns, Seon-yeong is not in the car. Mun-ho cannot find her anywhere and can't reach her on her cell phone.

When he goes to her place, he finds that every personal item of hers is gone. Desparate to find Seon-yeong, Mun-hoe enlists the aid of Jong-geun ( JO Seong-ha), a former policeman who'd been dismissed for taking bribes. Their search leads them along an increasingly complex path involving loan sharking, debt and bankruptcy, identity theft, and more.

Seon-yeong, left, and Mun-ho
This gripping mystery thriller was adapted by director BYUN from the novel All She Was Worth by Miyabe Miyuki. It's exceedingly well-crafted, and the rising suspense is palpable.

ACF Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars, highly recommended

These screenings of Helpless are part of the third edition of Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today. This joint presentation of The Korea Society and MoMA includes 11 distinctive contemporary narratives, from superior genre films to unclassifiable features by some of Korea’s leading renegade filmmakers.

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