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In My End is My Beginning - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Kkeut-gwa si-jak

South Korea 2013

Drama, Romance

Min Gyoo-dong

Uhm Jung-hwa
Kim Hyo-jin
Hwang Jeong-min
Jone D. Kim
Lee Hwi-hyang
Kim Kang-woo

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In My End is My Beginning

Story: Jeong-ha (Uhm Jung-hwa) sits down with her husband Jae-in (Hwang Jeong-min) and a glass of wine and he starts to tell her about his new idea for a book. In the book Jae-in has an affair with a young woman, Naru (Kim Hyo-jin). The two act out their sadomasochism and Jae-in seems to have become tired of life. Eventually Jae-in dies in a car crash which also involves Naru. However, the girl survives and shortly after doesn't just turn up at Jae-in's funeral, but even appears on Jeong-ha's doorstep sometime later. At that time the wife doesn't know whether she is supposed to grieve or hate her husband for having cheated on her. She is torn between her feelings and that's when Naru asks her if she can stay at her place. Jeong-ha doesn't know any reason why she should take in the woman who destroyed her life, but she allows her to stay anyway since a part of her wants to punish Naru. Contrary to the beliefs of the wife, who thinks that Naru wants to continue tormenting her in some way, the girl wants exactly the same. She wants to be punished in order to make it easier for her to live with her guilt. But there also seems to be another secret connection between the two women.

Review: And here we have a drama that is sure to divide the audience. "In My End is My Beginning" is courageous, every now and then courageously different, in respect to the narration as well as the story in general. This results in the fact that it's not always easy to follow the movie. No big deal since no one should refrain from using their grey matter in a drama once in a while. But director and screenwriter Min Gyoo-dong at times simply seems to want making his story look smarter and more profound than it actually is. That is frustrating, especially towards the end, but ultimately you can't deny either that this romantic drama can enchant you with its wonderful atmosphere as well.

In My End is My Beginning - Film Screenshot 11

We are actually looking at the director's cut of “La Fin et le debut”, a segment of the omnibus "Five Senses of Eros". In the center of the story we have loss, grief, but also anger and jealousy, after all a wife learns that her husband has cheated on her. This mix of a wide range of extreme emotions serves as the ideal breeding grounds for the exploration of the inner life of two women who grieve for the same man. Naru is a masochist and most likely that's also the reason why she lives at Jeong-ha's place for a while. But even without this preference it's only understandable that she wants to punish herself for what she has done. Jeong-ha sees things differently, though. She thinks that Naru wants to anger her in some way, but she doesn't want to give her this kind of satisfaction.

In My End is My Beginning - Film Screenshot 12

The story is incorporated into a frame narrative, from which a twist evolves at the end. However, this twist is so foreseeable that you can't truely call it that. Director Min Gyoo-dong also seems to be aiming at confusing the audience by making Jae-in not only appear in the frame narrative but also as an illusion that visits Jeong-ha constantly in the reality of the book story. There are a few scenes that make you scratch your head, but when it comes down to it "In My End is My Beginning" is startlingly easy to grasp. A lot of things are located in a dream world, but where to draw the line between dream and reality isn't half as difficult as we are made to believe. There is one thing, though, the director achieves with the tool of dream transition despite the narrative weakness: creating an enchanting atmosphere.

Min Gyoo-dong has already quite some experience in making movies, among his works count "Antique" as does "All About My Wife", and they too certified that he has a knack for composing nice pictures. This time he especially succeeds in building a cozy-melancholic mood in the beginning, as if driving home in a car on a quiet rainy night, looking forward to your warm bed. Not everything in the movie is somber. There is a certain sweet feeling of longing and hope hovering over the screen, too. Therefore, there needs to be some praise for the atmosphere and the nice looking pictures, in which light is often played with. Important for the story are also the bed scenes, but they are not fully well achieved - maybe that's the case because they are too decent for a change?

In My End is My Beginning - Film Screenshot 13

Accordingly, everyone who solely watches the movie because of the lesbian scene between Uhm Jung-hwa ("Montage", "Bestseller") and Kim Hyo-jin ("The Taste of Money") will be disappointed. Acting-wise the two work on a high level, though, Hwang Jeong-min ("New World", "Black House") as the third one in the ensemble sadly gets a little bit too little to do. The movie's atmosphere also thrives on the fact that there are almost solely those three characters to be seen on screen, thus focusing on the essence of the plot. The fascination for the unusual story and the narration bottoms out towards the end, though, leaving us with the uncertain feeling that you can't really tell what to take with you from this romantic drama. Those who believe that they could be dragged in by the appealing dreamy atmosphere should take a look.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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