Enigmatic to an intriguing fault, this study of sexual ennui --which approaches hardcore without mustering quite that much energy -- is more ghost tale than love story. Considerably more stylized than arthouse hit "Lies," the smoothly made "Texture of Skin" plumbs philosophical depths of sexual obsession, but will surely cause some ticket buyers to wonder what the fuss is about.

Enigmatic to an intriguing fault, this study of sexual ennui –which approaches hardcore without mustering quite that much energy — is more ghost tale than love story. Considerably more stylized than arthouse hit “Lies,” the smoothly made “Texture of Skin” plumbs philosophical depths of sexual obsession, but will surely cause some ticket buyers to wonder what the fuss is about.

Helmer Lee Sung-Gang’s background is in animation, and he takes an iconic approach to tale of opaque young man (Kim Yoon-Tae), who bumps into a seemingly emotionless old g.f., now married, who agrees to sleep with him nine times — for no given reason. Meanwhile, he’s hung up on the spirit of a younger girl who used to live in his apartment. She, as seen in flashbacks, lived with a lad getting ready for a sex change. This “Skin” flick isn’t always easy to follow, but there is something haunting about the situation. Important questions remain unanswered, and the actors — although quite naked much of the time — resist erotic viewing. Still, the spooky, intensely colored images, hinting at greater insights and presented with increasingly disconcerting rhythms, get under your you-know-what.

Texture of Skin

South Korea

Production

An East Film production, in association with Mirovision. (International sales: Mirovision, Seoul.) Produced by Ryu Jin-Ok, Myung Kay-Nam. Directed, written by Lee Sung-Gang.

Crew

Camera (color), Jo Yong-Gyu, Lee Yeong-Hoon; editor, Kang Mi-Ja; music, Kim Eun-Jeong. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (Dragons & Tigers), Oct. 2, 2005. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Kim Yoon-Tae, Choi Bo-Young, Kim Joo-Ryeong, Sing Ase-Chan, Yun Ki-Wun, Myung Kay-Nam.
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