Hansel and Gretel
Review by Desirée Leal
Long, repetitive and cyclical are the labyrinthine narrative and pace of South Korean director Yim Phil-Sung's Hansel and Gretel. And this is a good thing! The deeper we go, the more intense and intricate the path - and that path, at times, leads us to destinations entirely different from the one we initially intended. Dark and deeply emotionally evocative, Hansel and Gretel is not child's play. It is a beautifully lyrical story of a young man about to become a reluctant father. While driving to see his sick mother - and in the middle of heated phone conversation with his pregnant girlfriend on the very subject of his responsibilities - Lee Eun-Soo has a car accident in which his car crashes into the woods and he is thrown clear. A young girl walking alone in the woods finds him barely conscious and bleeding from his injuries. She takes him to her family's home. At first he finds nothing more unusual than the cheerfulness of the girl's sickly sweet parents, older brother and little sister - who are all too happy to take him in for the night, but have no phone he can use to call for help. But soon Eun-Soo discovers he cannot leave the woods that surround the house, and every attempt at escape leaves him more confused and desperate. He then realizes that the "parents" are actually the children's prisoners and that any adult unfortunate enough to drift into those woods are forced to remain forever at the house to "look after" the young girl and her siblings. What unfolds is a gripping tale about a man trapped by the playfulness of children's imaginations as well as the rage brought on by the horror of childhood abuse and neglect.
Beautifully shot, Hansel and Gretel explores the idea that people often, in their adult lives, remain trapped in repetitive patterns of fear and anger that always lead back to the source of our deepest emotional wounds in childhood. As Eun-Soo struggles to find, earn or fight his way out of the woods and the children's grasp, he is forced to face the wounds of his own past so that he may free himself and emerge from the dense and entangled forest of childhood pain where many adults are doomed to remain. Apart from a few cliché horror movie-type devices which the film frankly it did not need to be creepy and suspenceful, Hansel and Gretel is a wonderful achievement showcasing some amazing acting by the cast over all, but particularly excellent on the part of the three children - the youngest of whichcould not have been more than five years old! This was a definite VIFF highlight for me.
Hansel and Gretel
Yim Phil-Sung | South Korea | 2007 | 116min
Fri. Sept. 26 | 10:00am | Empire Granville Theatre 7
Thur. Oct. 2 | 6:30pm | Empire Granville Theatre 7
Fri. Oct. 3 | 1:30pm | Empire Granville Theatre 2