A highly stylized meller that walks a tightrope between abstract and arty, “Desire” plays like Late Fassbinder Goes Korean. With its resonant use of color and highly controlled look, this sophomore feature by Moscow-trained Kim Eung-su (“Time Lasts,” 1996) is a superb demo for the HD24p system — with almost zero trace of its video origins — but has few commercial smarts outside the fest circuit.
Rosa, a housewife in her late 20s, belatedly discovers her architect husband, Kyu-min, is having an affair — with professional gigolo Leo. By chance she bumps into Leo, who’s upset over Kyu-min recently dumping him, and the two eventually have sex, with various repercussions. Set in an abstract, almost unpopulated city, pic is about desire in its most refined sense — and largely hetero rather than homosexual. With its paucity of dialogue, spare music (extracts from chamber works by Eric Satieand Arvo Paart) and stiffish performances, it too often tips over from formalism into mannerism. For the record, pic was the first Korean movie entirely shot in HD24p, though it will actually be released after another HD24p film, the disaster romp “R.U. Ready?”