Story: May (Seong Yoo-ri) has been put up for adoption when she was four years old. Now, 23 years later, she returns to Korea in
order to find her parents and uncover the source of her lizard-shaped scar on her back. However, the only person she finds his her aunt
who tells her that her parents aren't alive anymore. Being a stranger and lost she wanders through the streets of Seoul and by chance
runs into taxi driver Eun-seol (Jang Hyeok) for the second time, a man who suffers from a heart disease that makes his organ stop pumping
blood for several seconds every now and then. Eun-seol has already met May at the airport and it seems as if he is following the girl.
He tells her that he wants to give her a little city tour, but May actually doesn't want him to be near her. Eventually, he proposes
to help her find her relatives, without knowing about her parents' fate, if she in return helps him find a red rabbit. Since his childhood
days Eun-seol has nightmares and hopes to resolve the mystery surrounding them by finding the red rabbit. Despite her being unwilling to
do so May spends some time with the taxi driver and the two realize that they are in fact connected by some kind of bond whose
source they slowly start to uncover.
Review: "Rabbit and Lizard" is a quiet drama mixed with a road movie which obviously has independent-film roots, but is told in
wonderfully captured pictures. It's one of those movies that introduces you to the pain and suffering of the characters in a slow and
subtle way and builds on the prerequisite that the viewer lets himself get into the mood and pacing of the movie. If you are ready to do
so you will get some nice minutes out of this film with the alternative title "Maybe". However, you won't remember those minutes for too
long as the film distinguishes itself from other independent dramas too little. Another big problem is that you never feel emotionally
involved in the story. The loneliness which embraces the two characters eventually is also transfered onto the audience and the
protagonists are too cold to really bring to bear the drama content of the film.
Chance plays a part in "Rabbit and Lizard" that is not to be underestimated. The chance meeting of Eun-seol and May almost seems as if being fate, but after their initial encounter the taxi driver takes fate into his own hands and creates opportunities for the two to meet over and over again. Of course, we instantly have to ask ourselves if Eun-seol has some romantic interest in May but for this his actions don't really give a clue. He has some interest in her and maybe also in the respect that he wants to build up some friendship towards her but he apparently doesn't think of this evolving into a romantic relationship. That's also the most refreshing element in the movie. There are no direct romantic advances even though Eun-seol has the opportunity for those on more than one occasion, but instead there is build up a friendly relationship, that is based on the pain the two share. The fact that they give each other the cold shoulder at times makes us miss some emotional warmth and therefore the drama can only seldomly truely work out, though.
The answers to the suffering the two protagonists are plagued by lie in their past. May seems to be tormented by a deep feeling of loneliness and disorientation despite having her adoptive parents in America and she hopes to heal herself in Korea. But the fact that her parents are already dead and she most likely will never find the answers she was looking for creates a big hole of emptiness inside her. Moreover, she finds herself in a country that isn't her home. Clues that her aunt give her and she is going after don't awaken any memories of her childhood either and so she seems to be dissociated from her past and her origin.
Eun-seol on the other hand knows that he can die at any moment and therefore cuts any bonds to his friends. There is only one wish which involves his friend Yeong-nam, played by Cha Tae-hyeon ("My Sassy Girl") in a cameo, he satisfies for himself. Nevertheless, that's also where director and scriptwriter Joo Ji-hong doesn't take care of coherence in respect to the character layout, because why does the taxi driver phone his old schoolmates and ask them how they managed life in the past years when he also cuts any bonds to other people?
The way the two characters get closer to each other is oftentimes too cold to be called appealing. There are only few scenes like that at the hospital for example where we get to see the movie apparently going into the right direction, but then still nothing happens for whatever reason. This emotional distance maybe was even supposed to stand as the film's appeal, but in the end it is simply responsible for the events on screen not to touch the viewer. Especially during the last third of the film this becomes obvious when suddenly tears start to flow while we as the viewer can't really understand why there is this sudden burst of emotions despite knowing about the deep sitting pain that tortures the protagonists. Furthermore, the twist towards the end somewhat feels like an anti-climax since nothing really seems to be changing for the characters. Nonetheless, this new information for the taxi driver and May seems to be sufficent enough to bring something conciliatory into the movie. That doesn't really fit together.
Apart from the already mentioned incoherences and moments that make you shake your head, e.g. the fact that May gets into the taxi of a man who just had a seizure in front of her which would have cost her life had he had the seizure in the taxi, "Rabbit and Lizard" still offers enough to keep the viewer's interest in the characters alive for most part. Seong Yoo-ri, popstar and actress, delivers a subtle portrayal that is convincing enough to make up for the rather shallowly drawn characters and she also is blessed with the looks to bring to bear the extremely sharp and polished beautiful pictures to their fullest potential. Jang Hyeok ("Please teach me English") doesn't really play his part more extroverted, yet is somehow more easily accessable for the viewer. Together the two also manage to create a certain chemistry, which nonetheless doesn't reach the level that could have been possible, even if obviously the screenplay is to be blamed for that.
All in all "Rabbit and Lizard" manages to take you into the world of two hurt individuals, mainly thanks to its pictures and its appealing piano-soundtrack, and is therefore a neat drama, which lacks some real deepth, nonetheless.