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The Bird That Stops in the Air

Beautifully, if statically, photographed, this elegant but inert road movie fitfully impresses with its lovely images and deliberate pacing, but there's really not a lot going on here. Jeon Soo-il, making his first feature, shows an interesting style, but needs to inject more dramatic thrust into his material. Future screenings are likely confined to fests with Asian sections.

Beautifully, if statically, photographed, this elegant but inert road movie fitfully impresses with its lovely images and deliberate pacing, but there’s really not a lot going on here. Jeon Soo-il, making his first feature, shows an interesting style, but needs to inject more dramatic thrust into his material. Future screenings are likely confined to fests with Asian sections.

Protagonist, played as a cipher by Sul Kyung-gu, teaches film theory to bored university students; his girlfriend, Kim So-hee, is also an academic, and something’s clearly not right about their relationship. After some desultory preliminaries, they set out across country by train and bus to the village where her family lives, but to no real purpose. Meanwhile, he plans to make a documentary film about birds, but when he gets the chance simply walks away. Impatient viewers may also be tempted to ankle from this handsome but minimal exercise in noncommunication and alienation.

The Bird That Stops in the Air

(DRAMA -- SOUTH KOREAN)

  • Production: A Dongnyuk Film production. (International sales: Miro Vision, Seoul.) Produced by Cho In-sook. Directed by Jeon Soo-il. Screenplay, Jeon Soo-il, Lee Jeong-ae. Camera (color), Kim Dae-sun, Hwang Chul-hyun; editor, Park Hyuk-kon; music, Rainy Sun; production designer, Lee Jeong-ae. Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (New Territories), Sept. 2, 1999. Original title: Saeneun pyegoksuneul keurinda. Running time: 106 MIN.
  • Crew:
  • With: With: Sul Kyung-gu, Kim So-hee, Lee Chung-in.
  • Music By: