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Perfect Number - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Yong-eui-ja X

South Korea 2012

Thriller, Drama

Bang Eun-jin

Ryoo Seung-beom
Lee Yo-won
Jo Jin-woong
Kim Bo-ra
Kim Yoon-seong
Lee Seok-joon
Lim Seong-min
Kwak Min-ho
Kwon Hae-hyo
Nam Moon-cheol

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Perfect Number

aka Suspect X

Story: Kim Seok-go (Ryoo Seung-beom) teaches math at high school, although he could have achieved a lot more with his brilliant mind. He is very reclusive and doesn't seem to take pleasure in anything, only his neighbor Hwa-seon (Lee Yo-won) he is interested in. To approach her he can't muster up the courage for, though. One day he hears through the thin walls of his flat that Hwa-seon's ex-husband turns up at her doorstep and abuses her and her niece Yoon-ah (Kim Bo-ra). Defending herself Hwa-seon kills her ex-husband. However, before she can call the police in order to turn herself in, Seok-go rings at her doorbell and offers his help. He explains that it is apparent that her niece helped in the murder as well and wouldn't get away unpunished either. Thus, Hwa-seon agrees to trust her neighbor in handling everything. A few days later the body turns up near the river. Detective Min-beom (Jo Jin-woong) is in charge of the case and has his sights set on Hwa-seon as the suspect right from the start. However, she has an alibi. As a matter of routine Min-beom also rings at Seok-go's place and it turns out that the two know each other back from school. Is this an unexpected variable in Seok-go's plan he can handle?

Review: The risk you run when watching a movie without reading up on it beforehand is that you suddenly may find yourself watching a remake. In this case it is the remake of the Japanese thriller "Suspect X" from the year 2008, which again is based on the much-lauded novel "The Devotion of Suspect X" by Keigo Higashino. So, does this mean that we get wine here that is thinned down for a second time already? It seems so, because despite an appealing atmosphere it is difficult to warm up to the characters. Additionally, there are a few problems with the pacing so that occasionally you have to get over some lean time. The most incomprehensible aspect, though, is that the twist is in a certain respect illogical and therefore supposedly not according to the original. Or there has been left out quiete a bit. Looking at the original seems to be inevitable because the material certainly proves to have potential.

Perfect Number - Film Screenshot 11

It's almost as if Seok-go replaced a diffult to solve mathematical problem with another one that is impossible to solve. What's meant by that becomes apparant in the course of the film, in any case it makes question marks pop up over your head. This mishap concerning logical plausibility spoils the fun by a lot. That doesn't mean, though, that "Perfect Number" isn't a neat thriller. Especially the mood of the movie manages to engage. The somewhat gloomy coloring, the introverted acting, the typical cat-and-mouse game, all of those are ingredients that add to the success of a thriller, yet more than anywhere else there are some flaws concerning the actors, or rather their characters I should say. That is because they lack the necessary amount of depth.

Perfect Number - Film Screenshot 12

It's pleasant to see Ryoo Seung-beom ("The Suicide Forecast", "The Unjust") in a more introverted role for a change. And he also manages to make us buy his portrayal of a mathematician who doesn't just believe that he is always a step ahead of everyone, but who without even breaking a sweat actually is. Furthermore, he even succeeds in making us doubt from a certain point onwards that Seok-go is in fact helping Hwa-seon out of love, maybe he even awakened a monster within that was only waiting to finally get out. Yet, unfortunately the fact that his character could have been worked out a bit better remains. Nevertheless, it gets even worse when it comes to Hwa-seonm played by Lee Yo-won ("The Recipe"), who being the helpless damsel in distress lacks any real character traits.

The actually likeable character is the detective, though. Jo Jin-woong ("Nameless Gangster") breathes the necessary amount of life into his role, but at times you are also wondering about the detective's doggedness which makes him want to convict Hwa-seon of being the culprit no matter what. Aside from some lengthy moments the movie still convinces with well interspersed twists and the resolution at the end includes some nice elements as well, with the exception of the above-mentioned plot hole which I won't go into any further for spoiler reasons. However, despite "Perfect Number" being based on the Japanese original it turns out that it is a Korean movie through and through. After all the thriller drifts into the melodramatic and oversentimental, along with some unnecessarily thrown in slow motion sequences towards the end.

Perfect Number - Film Screenshot 13

Good ideas the movie has put aside, "Perfect Number" oftentimes doesn't exceed a "nice evening programme I accidentally tuned in". There is an even greater disappointment arising if you know that the thriller is from former actress Bang Eun-jin ("Address Unknown") who could already deliver a very nice thriller with "Princess Aurora". Here, the characters somewhat lack life and considering the very well written story, with exceptions, you somehow expect more than you get in the end. In any case the movie is arousing interest in the Japanese original. And it doesn't necessarily have to be the movie. To sit down on the couch with a book in the evening also isn't a bad idea.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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