A Korean hunchback mortician and his transsexual stepbrother never quite find the rhythm of their shared danse macabre in "The Weight," a grotesque flight of fancy from South-Korean auteur-cum-fantast Jeon Kyu-hwan ("Dance Town," "From Seoul to Varanasi").

A Korean hunchback mortician and his transsexual stepbrother never quite find the rhythm of their shared danse macabre in “The Weight,” a grotesque flight of fancy from South-Korean auteur-cum-fantasist Jeon Kyu-hwan (“Dance Town,” “From Seoul to Varanasi”). Embracing its mainly Catholic symbolism so strongly it continuously runs the risk of imploding under its own, well, weight, the pic is cleanly composed in its visuals but convoluted in its plotting. Purportedly about the heavy burden of simply being alive, it perhaps appropriately requires Herculean effort to sit through. Some avant-garde fests might provide absolution.

The sickly Jung (Cho Jae-hyun) works in a morgue, where he makes the dead look perfect one last time, for the relatives who’ll attend the memorial services and for himself, since he moonlights as a portrait artist. Some corpses are provided with grizzly backstories via flashbacks, though the main narrative seems to be the uneasy relationship of Jung and his stepbrother (mono-monikered performer Zia), who dreams of having a female body. Technically, the pic is impressively crisp, but the exact meaning of it all is so artfully concealed, few auds will want to come and play hide-and-seek.

The Weight

South Korea

Production

A New Entertainment World presentation of a New Entertainment World, East Gate Partners, Treefilm production. (International sales: Finecut, Seoul.) Produced by Choi Mi-ae. Executive producer, Kim Woo-taek. Directed, written by Jeon Kyu-hwan.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Kim Nam-kyun; editors, Kim Mi-young, Park Hae-oh; music; Choo Dae-kwan, production designer, Chang Seok-jin; sound, Lee Won-cheol; visual effects, E-Storm; visual effects supervisor, Hong Jang-pyo. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 30, 2012. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Cho Jae-hyun, Zia.
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