×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

La Vie En Rose

Good locations and a fizzy, what-the-hell attitude save this messy mix of genre parody, class consciousness and arty intentions from withering. Pic could find a grudging home in some commercially minded Asian cinemas, but won't smell sweet enough for offshore arthouse picking.

Good locations and a fizzy, what-the-hell attitude save this messy mix of genre parody, class consciousness and arty intentions from withering. Pic could find a grudging home in some commercially minded Asian cinemas, but won’t smell sweet enough for offshore arthouse picking.

Set in working-class Seoul in the months leading up to the 1988 Olympics, pic narrows in on a small group of misfits, drawn together at an all-night comic-book shop, which doubles as a super-cheap crash pad. The madam of this open-house”library” is a lovely, introspective woman (Choi Myung-Kil) who handles the roughest elements with relaxed ease. She does, however, become somewhat unnerved by the arrival of handsome gangster Dongpal (Choi Jae-Sung), on the lam from a frame-up charge.

Unfortunately, Dongpal pursues Madam’s attentions by raping her in a troubling, if ultimately well-handled scene. The woman responds by refusing to acknowledge hispresence, sending him into an existential tailspin that has him following her day and night. He harasses her customers, including her brother (Cha Gwang-Soo), who’s a labor leader in hiding, and a young writer (Lee Jee-Hyung) wanting to learn about life. Eventually, though, the toughie begins to fit into their odd little family.

It’s an admittedly quirky kind of love story, one that Jean Renoir could have tossed off handily in the politically charged 1930s (or maybe Juzo Itami today, albeit with a more farcical edge). When first-time helmer Kim Hong-Joon tries to throw political commentary into the pulpy romance the attempt is clumsy and too late in coming. Similarly, outright chopsocky sequences lack the necessary flair to justify their rhythm-breaking intrusions — especially when some fights crack with cartoon abandon and others thud realistically.

The problem is one of over-ambition leavened with a surplus of good taste. Pic is neither rigorous nor cheesy enough to satisfy the various audiences it’s gunning for, although good perfs, effective lensing and a snappy pop score make it easy to sit through.

La Vie En Rose

(SOUTH KOREAN)

Production: A Taehung Pictures (Seoul) production. (International sales: Korean Motion Picture Promotion Co.) Produced by Le Tae-Won. Directed by Kim Hong-Joon. Screenplay, Yook Sang-Hyo.

Crew: Camera (color), Park Seoung-Bai; editor, Park Soon-Duk; music, Cho Dong-Ik; production design, Kim Yoo-Joon. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (competing), Oct. 14, 1994. Running time: 95 MIN.

With: With: Choi Myung-Kil, Choi Jae-Sung, Cha Gwang-Soo, Lee Jee-Hyung, Hwang Mee-Sun.

More Film

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel,' 'Lego Movie 2' to Lead President's Day Weekend

    “Alita: Battle Angel” is holding a slim lead ahead of “Lego Movie 2’s” second frame with an estimated four-day take of $29.1 million from 3,790 North American locations. “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” meanwhile, is heading for about $25 million for a domestic tally of around $66 million. The two films lead the pack [...]

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Bruno GanzSwiss Film Award in Geneva,

    Bruno Ganz, Star of 'Downfall' and 'Wings of Desire,' Dies at 77

    Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor best known for dramatizing Adolf Hitler’s final days in 2004’s “Downfall,” has died. He was 77. Ganz died at his home in Zurich on Friday, his representatives told media outlets. The cause of death was reportedly colon cancer. In addition to delivering one of the definitive cinematic portrayals of Hitler, [...]

  • Steve Bannon appears in The Brink

    Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink'

    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it gives him a lift; he drinks it for [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Praise Academy Reversal: 'We Thank You for Your Show of Respect'

    Cinematographers who fought the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations have praised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for reversing the exclusions. “We thank you for your show of respect for the hard-working members of the film community, whose dedication and exceptional talents deserve the public recognition this reversal now allows them to enjoy,” [...]

  • Peter Parker and Miles Morales in

    'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse' Colored Outside the Lines

    The well-worn superhero genre and one of its best-known icons are unlikely vehicles for creating a visually fresh animated feature. But Sony Pictures Animation’s work on the Oscar-nominated animated feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” shows throwing out the rule book and letting everyone play in the creative sandbox can pay off big. “I think we [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content