Plot seems sleazy but the emotional subtext elevates the sto
Jenny J.J.I. | That Lives in Carolinas | 09/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Samaritan Girl introduces us to two high-schoolers Yeo-jin and Jae-young who would like to go to Europe but they don't have the money. unfortunately Prostitution is one way of getting it. Yeo-jin contacts clients via chatrooms, instant messenger and mobile phone and generally handles the business side of things while Jae-young deals with the clients themselves.
Things go fine until, caught in an apartment as the police make a raid, Jae-young leaps out of the window in a bid to escape and is fatally injured. Seeking to make penance, Yeo-jin starts going through their address book, offering herself to each client in turn, gratis. Then her father, a cop, finds out with predictably violent and tragic consequences.
I found the film extremely involving, and the touching relationship between the two girls seemed particularly well-handled to me: I really grew to care about these characters, particularly ever-effervescent Jae-Young, who, with her constant smile and unflappable loyalty, was a character I was sad to see go. Following her death, the film's exploration of the father's painful reaction to his daughter's "lifestyle," was also interesting and, up to a point, well-handled. Direction was skillful, particularly in its crafty use of handheld footage in many segments; and the film does have an air about it of being tightly under control, which seems to indicate the practiced hand of a natural cinematic artisan. Unfortunately despite strong performances, confident direction and a careful, non-exploitative approach to the material, Samaritan Girl is a touch too enigmatic for its own good and doesn't quite manage to achieve a satisfactory balance between reality and its transcendence, too many things remaining under-explored and under-explained.
Thus, for example, while Yeo-jin and Jae-young discuss the tale of an Indian prostitute whose attentions caused her clients to devote themselves to Buddhism, we don't see how this "holy whore" myth compares with the contemporary Korean reality; nor does the director successfully manage to bring out the contrasts implicit in the more Christian framework within which he has chosen to situate the story. Nevertheless, despite that "Samaritan Girl" is a worthwhile film that everyone should watch and come to understand. "
Two cute girls and a plan gone awry
Dave99 | Brooklyn, New York | 03/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I justed watched SAMARITAN GIRL tonight. This Korean film, directed by Kim Ki-Duk, features Ji-Min Kwak as Yeo-jin, a high school girl who runs a small prostitution business with her friend Jae-young (played by the cute as a button Yeo-reum Han, acting here under the name Min-jeong Seo, according to Imdb.)
These two girls are best friends and seem to do everything together. To raise money so they can fly to Europe, Jae-young comes up with the prostitution idea. She sleeps with the clients and actually enjoys it, while Yeo-jin makes the arrangements and keeps the money. Things go bad one day when two cops follow Jae-young up to her liaison in a motel, and attempting to escape, jumps from the window to her death.
Yeo-jin is distraught at the loss of her best friend and beset with guilt over having the money entrusted to her. To alleviate her conscience, she arranges liaisons with Jae-young's clients to give back the money. However, when her father, a cop on the vice squad, discovers what she's up to, things take a dark turn for both himself and his daughter's customers.
This film seemed like several in one. It starts off as a story about the friendship of two school girls, turns into a tale of about guilt and redemption, and then turns into a story about revenge and a lack of communication. I'd like to have seen more of the friendship (with more screen time for Yeo-reum Han), and some things seem rather far-fetched, but it's a thought provoking film and I liked it overall.
The film is presented on DVD by Tartan Video and has one very serious flaw that I've never seen before on disc: for the last ten or fifteen minutes, there's a quite visible bar running vertically through the picture about a third of the way in from the left. It's as though I was watching a broadcast with a weak signal. I couldn't believe I was seeing such a thing. Did anybody at Tartan look at this transfer before committing it to disc? I'm thinking of writing them to say that, after seeing this, I must seriously question getting any more of their titles.
Otherwise, the film is presented at 1.78:1, widescreen enhanced. The picture is okay but not great - kind of on the dark side, and certainly not among the sharpest that I've seen. It is watchable, though. I listened to the DTS soundtrack, but it sounded like a regular stereo soundtrack with no special audio effects.
An interesting film, and I'd like to see more by this director, but the transfer problem at the end is unforgiveable.
Ratings: Film - 4 stars; DVD transfer - 2 stars "
A Moving Tale about Sin, Shame, Guilt and the Lack of Commun
Woopak | Where Dark Asian Knights Dwell | 04/05/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"SAMARITAN GIRL (aka. Samaria) is a film by controversial Korean director Kim Ki-Duk. Needless to say, I enjoy watching his work, I have seen all of Kim's films; his films are unique, powerful, uninhibited, surprising pieces of film-making. Kim's films defies the usual trappings of storytelling with a rare visual and visceral punch that gave him an outcast reputation in his native land. His work is semi-abstract and tries to represent thoughts and feelings by pure expression of emotion, not by words, but actions and reactions. Most of his films have limited dialogue such as "The Isle", "Bad Guy" and "3-Iron".
A couple of teenage girls have a dream of traveling abroad. They are best friends and in order for them to attain their goal, one becomes a prostitute while the other becomes a negotiator for the deal and serves as a lookout for authorities. The two girls seem to be doing well on their enterprise until one day, a tragic series of events sets off a situation that goes darker and darker by the moment. Will either of them find the light they're looking for?
At first impression, "Samaritan Girl" feels like a slice of human/life drama and/or teenage prostitution. This would be the wrong way to approach this film, as this would lead you to conclusions that would prove puzzling and leave you perplexed. This film is a film by Kim Ki-Duk, this director is famous for subtle messages with cryptic symbols, topics that are human with deep insights and understanding. Samaritan Girl is not really about teen prostitution, it is quite peculiar even for Kim, that its premise is more about human issues such as sin, guilt, shame, dishonor, vengeance, punishment and atonement, and eventual redemption. Most often, Kim explores the issue with the problem of communication or lack thereof. Kim's films revolve around moody, silent characters that express themselves through action and reaction; never by words. This visual style has given Kim international acclaim; his images would show the audience more depth than simple dialogue ever could. On that note, the sex, nudity and violence in his films may be visceral but it is NEVER exploitive. Kim reveals his characters through those scenes with such visual flare that we get to realize who or what they truly are. But enough about Kim, time to move on...
Jae-Yeong is the prostitute, Yeo-jin is the lookout. Jae-Yeong expresses herself through sex and enjoys what she does. Yeo-jin is puzzled as to why Jae-yeong feels that she isn't dirty and that she connects with her "johns" even for a brief time. However, Yeo-jin still performs ritualized attempts on Jae-Yeong to wash away her sins by bathing her. Catholic undertones, anyone? In the second half of the film, Yeo-jin tries to understand her friend by "becoming" her, she tries to experience what Jae-Yeong has. To redeem her sense of guilt, Yeo-jin has sex with Jae-yeong's customers. Yeo-jin's father is a cop who chances on seeing his daughter attending to a man. Shocked and dismayed, his reaction is violence which leads to bloody murder. Then as an exploration of his own guilt and bewilderment, he takes his daughter to visit her mother's grave. On these scenes, the last remnants in attempts of communication and redemption are to be made.
Kim's films are often poetic, intriguing and painfully beautiful. This director is at his best in making sentiments of thought-provoking themes through lyrical and poetic sequences, but never for a moment does his films lose their deep insight on the human condition. "Samaritan Girl" may alienate those expecting a film with a linear style with spoon-fed conclusions but will definitely attract those who are interested in experiencing a unique piece of cinema without the guidance of a finger to draw their conclusions. Then again, I have seen most of his films, and sometimes, even I'm not certain on their conclusions.
That is the magic of Kim's films. The director knows how to immerse his audience into a world that will sometimes bewilder and astonish, explore and understand the rules of a marginalized world or a way of life. You feel Kim's hand throughout his film's proceedings, it is similar to a walk on the beach, following the unpredictable footprints on the white sand, with an uncertain sense as to where he is trying to take you. He is a master of methodical cinema.
Like him or not, Kim Ki-Duk will envelope you and force you to experience the pain of the lack of communication that will haunt you even after the end credits. Give Kim a chance, and I bet you will feel your eyes open and maybe feel a bit "purified" from all the usual fare from Hollywood.
Highly Recommended! [4 ½ - Stars]
The na´ve dreams of the childhood and its fatal consequences
"The Samaritan girl" is a very complex movie that must be seen, taking into account three levels; the first part turns around the childish vision of the world where the prostitution is regarded by these girls as a trade, a goal by itself to make their dreams come true, that ticket that will allow them to travel, in search of new landscapes. The second part is the face of nastiness and repulsion of her friend once the tragedy happened, and the psychological device she will employ on order to achieve a personal vengeance. The third part is the expiation of her father who is a cop, and finds out the consequences of such abominable act. The final scene is am anthological metaphor, the camera progressively opens the objective and elevates itself leaving us before such dramatic end.
Kim Ki Duk has achieved an original proposal, without falling into easy concessions, there' s no overindulgence or melodramatic approach. It `s the life with all its merciless cruelness and horrid realism.
A powerful, bold and intense film that reveals many unsaid aspects of this delicate theme that many of us, simply overlook it. "
An Arthouse Masterpiece
RealCinema | 11/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"KINDLY NOTE SOME MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
Samaria is probably the first arthouse movie to emerge from South Korea.
Upon viewing the cover of the Dvd, many will get the wrong impression that this is some exploitation Movie. This is definitely not the case. Actually this has got to be one of the most honest movies to tackle such a delicate subject without ever once being explicit.
The director could have easily spoilt the movie with graphic sex or nudity, but instead this very brave director (who actually won the award for Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival) has managed to cross a message that is very important in our times without ever once embarrassing his audience. The movie is divided into 3 chapters, it opens with two girls chatting on the Internet with a complete stranger to meet for a date. Next we see a title on the screen which reads Vasumitra.
Vasumitra was a prostitute in India where legend has it that any man who slept with her turned into a devoted Buddhist! The director will further in the movie also mention other religious references. The name Vasumitra is the name that one of the girls will actually use as to disguise her identity. So begins the adventures of two teenage girls in the world of prostitution all for the sake to earn some easy money. An important shot at the very beginning of the movie after one of the girls has her first encounter with her client shows them eating a roasted pig's feet. Could this be a clear indication where these poor two girls are heading too, since the pig is considered by many, a filthy animal.
To further prove my point both the girls enter a bathhouse to wash. Describing what one of them just did was filthy. Next the girls run around in a park where they sit next to a line of statues of a complete family consisting of the mother father and children, which clearly shows they're longing to be part of a family.
Meanwhile one the girls is taking notes in her diary of every man she encounters. She sleeps in her tiny room soon, to be awakened by her father who is a detective!
He takes his daughter to school, and here again we hear another religious story this time about Jesus told by the father to his daughter.
Tragedy soon strikes and while one of the girls is busy with a client, the police raid the apartment. In a state of panic the girl has no idea what to do, and jumps out of the apartment window and falls to the ground, she is carried to the hospital by the detective's daughter but she is in a very serious condition and about to lose her life. Her friend persuades her to give her the diary and contact one of her clients, to visit her one last time before she dies. This is actually were the story takes a dramatic turn!
After her friend dies in hospital the detective's daughter starts visiting each client to return back the money her friend made from these men.
It is important to note that her friend was just there to look after her and take care of the money and had never encountered any clients up until now! Meanwhile here father is investigating a murder case and this is where he sees his own daughter in an opposite apartment with a client! Thus begins a story of revenge on each client, without the daughter ever knowing her father is actually one step behind her.
Revealing more would spoil this unique movie experience. The direction is superb and the haunting score literally pulls you in the mood of the story. I have no hesitation in highly recommending this movie to serious moviegoers. I would like to applaud Ki-duk Kim for making such an honest movie about a very serious subject.
Ki-duk Kim has truly made an amazing arthouse Masterpiece. "