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Obsessed - Movie Poster
Original Title:

South Korea 2014

Drama, Romance

Kim Dae-woo

Song Seung-heon
Lim Ji-yeon
Jo Yeo-jeong
On Joo-wan
Yoo Hae-jin
Park Hyeok-kwon

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Obsessed - Film Screenshot 1

Story: Kim Jin-pyeong (Song Seung-heon) has returned from the Vietnam War a hero. He lives on a military base with his wife and secretly suffers from the horrors of war he experienced and committed himself. His wife wants to push his career and invites him to a hospital visit where the media will be present as well. There, he gets to know Jong Ga-heun (Lim Ji-yeon), who is the wife of his subordinate Kyeong (On Joo-wan). The two are also Jin-pyeong's new neighbors. Because of her shy nature and her beautiful looks Ga-heun soon attracts the jealousy and deprecation of most wives. Only Sook-jin takes a shine to her and defends her whenever she has the chance to. However, she doesn't know that her husband Jin-pyeong has feelings for Ga-heun. After Jin-pyeong has learned that she also feels something for him he has an affair with her. Alhtough, Ga-heun rejects him over and over again, since their love isn't supposed to be, Jin-pyeong constantly finds new ways of sending her husband away so that he can be alone with her. But what will their future look like?

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Obsessed - Film Screenshot 4

Review: Looking at this movie's title it's easy to expect a romantic thriller in which an unrequited love entails a catastrophic outcome. But in "Obsessed" forbidden love is examined from a way more unspectacular angle. And that actually turns out to be a wise decision. The romantic drama thus may take its fair share of time, but the wonderful set design and the convincing acting achievements give the story that necessary something to actually not end up being the umpteenth rehash of a well-known drama hook that results in countless tears towards the end. It's also not an exaggeration to say that the choice to let the events take place in the year 1969 on a military base adds a lot to the movie's success, too. As does the breathtakingly beautiful cinematography.

Obsessed - Film Screenshot 5

However, the wonderful pictures were to be expected from director Kim Dae-woo. After all, he has already proven in "The Servant" and "Forbidden Quest" that he has a keen eye for details when it comes to costumes and sets. Next to that he once again picks up the theme of forbidden love. Considering the kind of love story presented it would have been easy to get tangled up in clichés, but Kim always puts emphasis on keeping an eye on the small things that make his story stand out from the rest. For instance, there is the Vietnam War, which made Jin-pyeong a hero, as well as the military base that serves the soldiers and their families as a home. The suburban houses and the life on the base in general are very much shaped after an American model and the fixation on Western life is even reflected in fashion and hair styling.

Obsessed - Film Screenshot 6

It's not by chance that the women compare each other to American actresses or that the men want to score with their technical know-how concerning the stereo by naming American brands. The West stands for the kind of wealth Korea was reaching for particularly strong at that time, and the Vietnam War also played its part for Korea to be especially close to America. Thus, Korea's striving for Western life is a very important element in "Obsessed", which has a fascinating appeal to it. The love story itself may have been woven with a lot of effort, but it hardly could have made an impression on you by itself. The two lovers get closer to each other, but it's obvious from the get-go that their deep love, which like any love at first sight isn't that much different from obsession, will lead to extreme difficulties the two have to face.

Obsessed - Film Screenshot 7

Song Seung-heon ("A Better Tomorrow") plays the war hero, who actually suffered a great trauma in the war and is on medication because of it. His wife, very superficially portrayed by Jo Yeo-jeong ("The Concubine"), for which she actually deserves some credit, can't be of any help to him since her eyes are only set on bitching about others during one of the many coffee parties with other housewives or highlighting her value to the community. Jin-pyeong on the other hand doesn't care about building relationships in order to climb the ladder. He is lonely and in Ga-heun he meets someone he feels a connection to for the first time in his life. Lim Ji-yeon is a fresh face and she gives her role a few nice facets so that she isn't merely the shy and passive wife who has an affair because of her deep love. A well-achieved portrayal.

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Furthermore, "Obsessed" also features some hot sex scenes which actually show quite a bit. Yet, they never destroy the at times high artistic level of the drama. Director Kim Dae-woo is known for this strength of his. All in all, the pacing of the story may prove to be rather slow, but there is still enough happening, at least between the lines, for things to move forward. The drama towards the end may be a bit predictable, yet it tries to take a different path, only to... But I don't want to spoil anything here. "Obsessed" is, particularly concerning its pictures and the year it plays in, a nice love story that revolves a lot around the pain that inevitably goes hand in hand with the kind of love that isn't accepted by society. And it's not accepted since Korea, despite all the obsession with America, is still very attached to its deep cultural roots.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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