×

Crush and Blush

The spirit (but not the intellectual rigor) of "Oldboy" helmer Park Chan-wook is strongly evident in the clumsily titled "Crush and Blush," a black comedy of distaff emotional vengeance that starts running out of gas at the halfway mark.

With:
With: Gong Hyo-jin, Lee Jong-hyeok, Hwang Woo-seul-hye, Seo Woo, Bang Eun-jin, Bong Jun-ho.

The spirit (but not the intellectual rigor) of “Oldboy” helmer Park Chan-wook is strongly evident in the clumsily titled “Crush and Blush,” a black comedy of distaff emotional vengeance that starts running out of gas at the halfway mark. Produced by Park himself through his shingle, Moho Film, and directed by alumna Lee Kyoung-mi, making her feature debut, this has potential as a fest sidebar item on the strength of Park’s rep but not enough variation in its concept to break out farther. Locally, pic has clocked up a so-so 500,000 admissions since mid-October release.

Film is a showcase for actress Gong Hyo-jin (one of the investigating girls in high school ghost story “Memento Mori”), who has a field day wearing bulky duds and Plain Jane makeup as doofus Yang Mi-suk. Demoted from teaching Russian at a high school to teaching English (a language she can’t even understand) at a junior high school, Yang is a seething pool of resentment whose face unfortunately turns bright red when she blushes — which is often. (Pic’s Korean title translates as “Miss Carrot.”)

Yang carries a torch for fellow teacher Seo Jong-cheol (Lee Jong-hyeok), under whom she studied 10 years ago. Problem is, her beautiful and popular fellow teacher, Lee Yu-ri (newcomer Hwang Woo-seul-hye), is canoodling with the married Seo — apparently with the knowledge of Seo’s wife, ice queen Eun-gyo (Bang Eun-jin), who wants a divorce.

Still dreaming she stands more than an iceberg’s chance in hell, Yang enlists the help of the couple’s naive daughter, student Jong-heui (Seo Woo), to torpedo the relationship. Her plan involves delaying the divorce (so Seo won’t be free to remarry) and then screwing with Lee’s mind in Internet chatrooms.

The very Park-ian idea of centering on a character who, by all reasonable terms, is obsessive to the point of madness — plus the very misanthropic tone — makes the movie’s first half a treat. Gong’s clever portrayal of her character’s mood switches — spinning on a dime between nice and nasty — and the quirky music and direction give pic a very different flavor from that of most South Korean comedies, even the blacker ones.

However, when Yang turns against Seo at the hour mark, the tone starts to pall. The finale, with all characters having it out, courtroom-style, in the school’s language lab, is needlessly repetitive.

Casting is fine, with Bang coming through strongly in the later stages as Seo’s wife. Role of Seo is weakly written.

Park himself can be briefly glimpsed in a walk-on, and “The Host” helmer Bong Joon-ho cameos as a doctor. English subtitles on print caught were poor, harming full comprehension of the plot and not fully reflecting the humor in the dialogue.

Popular on Variety

Crush and Blush

South Korea

Production: A Big House release, presented with Vantage Holdings, of a Moho Film production. (International sales: Fine Cut, Seoul.) Produced by Park Chan-wook. Executive producers, Jeong Eui-seok, Kim Sun-yong. Co-producer, Lee Min-su. Directed by Lee Kyoung-mi. Screenplay, Lee, Park Eun-gyo, Park Chan-wook.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Kim Dong-yeong; editor, Shin Min-gyeong; music, Jang Yeong-gyu; production designer, Hwang Ju-hye; costume designer, Son Na-ri; sound (Dolby Digital), Gang Ju-seok, Choi Tae-yeong; assistant director, Son Jae-hyeok. Reviewed at Pusan Film Festival (Korean Cinema Today -- Panorama), Oct. 7, 2008. Running time: 103 MIN.

With: With: Gong Hyo-jin, Lee Jong-hyeok, Hwang Woo-seul-hye, Seo Woo, Bang Eun-jin, Bong Jun-ho.

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content