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No Doubt - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Dolikil Soo Eobsneun

South Korea 2010

Thriller, Drama

Park Soo-young

Lee Jeong-jin
Kim Tae-woo
Jeong In-gi
Kim Chang-sook
Lim Seong-eon
Bae Ho-geun

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No Doubt

Story: No Choong-sik (Kim Tae-woo) is a single father in a suburb, when one day suddenly his daughter disappears without a trace. The search remains unsuccessful and with every day that passes Choong-sik loses hope in ever seeing his daughter again. In the meantime, Detective Baek (Jeong In-gi) is searching for clues, until one day he finds out that the bicycle rental merchant Yoo Se-jin (Lee Jeong-jin), who has recently moved to the suburb with his mother and sister, had been convicted of sexual harassment before. The case seems clear, but without evidence Baek cannot arrest the man. However, Choong-sik also finds out about the man's background and eventually distributes Se-jin's criminal record as a flyer in the village. Now Se-jin cannot show his face anywhere anymore and his family suffers from the neighbors' scornful looks. The police and the village start a witch hunt. For them there is no doubt anymore that Se-jin is guilty, all that they need to lock him away for the rest of his life is ironclad proof.

Review: Those who think that this is simply a thriller in the style of "Memories of Murder" will be taught differently after the first few minutes. "No Doubt" focuses on complex subjects like child abuse, arbitrary law, presumption of innocence and poses the question whether or not a monster always stays a monster. It is a brave step of director Park Soo-young to show a (former?) pedophile, who is being labeled as the perpetrator right away and falls victim to a genuine witch hunt. You might think that you would not be able to feel sorry for such a guy, but this man, too, has a family. A family, which suffers extremely from his former deeds and the suburbia's accusations.

The mixture of drama and thriller is the movie's actual strong point. While we certainly understand Choong-sik's behavior at the beginning and how he wants to take revenge on somebody for what has happened to his daughter, we then slowly start to feel uncomfortable with the situation. What if Se-jin is not the perpetrator? Is it inevitable for a guy like him to lapse back into crime? One of the suburban inhabitants comes to the conclusion that pedophiles will always keep committing crimes once they crossed the line, just like any other violent criminal would. However, the movie also subtly poses the question, whether this really gives the suburbia the right to accuse, condemn and bully him in such an extreme way. In the end, believe it or not, this even makes us feel sorry for him.

And herein lies the complexity of the drama. How can you possibly feel sorry for a pedophile? Se-jin is a calm fellow and we are never sure, whether this is because in his mind he lives out his fantasies, or whether he tries to fight his inner demons or maybe even simply retreats into his shell out of remorse. He endures the defamations without saying a word and it is not until his family is being dragged in that he shows some resistance. But mostly he is the victim and one evening even is dog is killed. With his subtle acting, Lee Jeong-jin ("Pieta") manages to bring depth into this complex role and makes us alternate between repulsion and compassion. Because one thing is for sure. Even if he might not be the perpetrator in this case, he definitely has been one, no matter in whatever fashion.

Actually, the ones to suffer are definitely Se-jin's family members. His sister works in a kindergarten. It does not take long and the parents are not willing to let their kids near her anymore either. And it is not the first time that the sister had to suffer from what Se-jin had done in the past. The mother, on the other hand, stands up for her son, maybe even destroys evidence against him, but at the same time, she refuses to eat at the same table as him. A lot is only hinted at, but in the scenes of the family, the complicated feelings and the grief of the past years can definitely be felt. Compared to that Choong-sik's stays a rather shallow character. Certainly, it is easy to feel for a father, who has lost his daughter, but his way of taking the law into his own hands will without a doubt eventually make him act irrationally.

When the suspicious circumstances against Se-jin add up but the ironclad proof cannot be found so that the police's hands are tied, the community's feelings run high. That is why "No Doubt" is always interesting and stays full of suspense. The flashbacks, in which witnesses tell their stories, never fully resolve whether Se-jin is the perpetrator or not, therefore the search for the murderer is told very captivatingly. In some few disturbing scenes, the director reminds us of the fact that Se-jin is a sick individual, but to what actions this might drive him remains the big mystery up until the end, even though after a while the ending might also seem rather obvious. With a running time of 90 minutes, "No Doubt" is a fully packed thriller, which has a good deal of drama in it and because of its subject even offers an unexpected profoundness.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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