Two good lead perfs are the main reason for checking out "Maundy Thursday," a well-written meller about lack of faith that turns Christian-preachy in its third act. Third feature by director Song Hae-seng looks like specialized fest fare at best. Locally, business has been brisk, with 2.3 million admissions ($14 million) since opening mid-September.

Two good lead perfs are the main reason for checking out “Maundy Thursday,” a well-written meller about lack of faith that turns Christian-preachy in its third act. Third feature by director Song Hae-seng, who attracted attention with “Failan” but then lost it with big-budget biopic “Rikidozan,” looks like specialized fest fare at best. Locally, business has been brisk, with 2.3 million admissions ($14 million) since opening mid-September.

Young college professor Yu-jeong (Lee Na-yeong) attempts suicide, alienating her further from her highly religious family. However, she does spend time with her aunt, Sister Monica (Yun Ye-jeong), a Catholic nun at a prison.

Yu-jeong becomes intrigued by one of Monica’s charges, death-row prisoner Yun-su (Gang Dong-weon), who shares a similar death wish and rejection of Christian compassion. The two slowly get to know each other, and by the time he goes to the gallows (shown in some detail) Yun-su accepts the love of God.

Lee is very good as the burned-out prof and shows good chemistry with Gang as the taciturn, angry, onetime street kid. But most involving bits of the smoothly-packaged pic (literally, “Our Happy Time”) are all in the first half.

Maundy Thursday

South Korea

Production

A Prime Entertainment release of a Prime Entertainment/LJ Film presentation of an LJ Film, SangSang Film production. (International sales: Prime/LJ, Seoul.) Produced by Lee Seung-jae, Ahn Sang-hun. Directed by Song Hae-seng. Screenplay, Park Eun-yeong, from her novel.

Crew

Camera (color), Gang Seung-gi; editors, Park Gok-ji, Jeong Jin-heui; music, Lee Jae-jin; art director, Lee Jin-ho; costumes, Kim Min-heui. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (market), Oct. 17, 2006. Running time: 123 MIN.

With

Gang Dong-weon, Lee Na-yeong, Yun Ye-jeong, Gang Shin-il, Kim Ji-yeong, Jeong Yeong-suk, Jang Hyeon-seong.
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