Chun-nyun-hack (Beyond the Years)



Venice International Film Festival

VENICE, Italy -- Im Kwon-taek's 100th film, "Beyond the Years," is his first on love and romance. Well-known for social dramas and humanistic movies, he won the best director's award at Cannes in 2002 for "Strokes of Fire." Also renowned for his powerful works such as "Mandala," "Surrogate Woman" and "Come Come Upward," Im is not quite comfortable dealing with love. Im's foray into the romantic genre can be a point of curiosity, appealing to audiences at home and abroad, but the film looks like a curio, not a boxoffice winner.

Autobiographical, or so it seems, "Beyond the Years" tries to make up for this weakness by presenting a canvas of extraordinary visuals, conceived and captured by Jung Il-sung. The Korean landscape appears almost ethereal as it is underscored by "pansori" or Korean throat-singing. In fact, the film can well pass off for a musical. Ryo Kunihiko's compositions enslave one's heart. Exquisitely modern, the music uses a range of instruments like the piano, drum, Irish whistle and the crumhorn.

However, beyond the melodious imagery, the movie offers very little. About two siblings, whose father is a failed singer, "Beyond the Years" spans some 15 years, punctuated by unrequited and perhaps incestuous love between the musician's daughter, Song-hwa (Oh Jung-hae), and his stepson, Dong-ho (Jo Jae-hyun). The years see Dong, tired of the old man's resolve to make a perfect drummer out of him that entails hard schedules, run away from home and his beloved to join the army. Song labors on to become a singer.

However, despite good acting by the leads, the film is pretty confusing with flashbacks and flash-forwards. If it is guilt that keeps Dong away from Song, pushing him into a reckless marriage with an actress, it is not convincingly conveyed, and there are places where Im seems to lose control over the narrative.The flaw perhaps lies with scripting, or maybe the helmer's inexperience in dealing with this subject. Or, it could just be that he let emotion play director.

Kino2 Pictures in association with Centurion Technology Investment Corp. and the Korean Film Council
Director: Im Kwon-taek
Writers: Yi Chung-jun and Im Kwon-taek
Producer: Kim Jong-don
Director of photography: Jung Il-sung
Production designer: Park So-hui
Music: Ryo Kunihiko
Co-producer: Lee Hee-won
Costume designer: Lee Hae-ryun
Editor: Park Soon-duk
Song-hwa: Oh Jung-hae
Dong-ho: Jo Jae-hyun
Running time -- 106 minutes
No MPAA rating