Lee Su-jin (director)
07 November 2019 (released)
19 November 2019
‘Wheels within Wheels in a spiral array, a pattern so grand and complex’ that lyric taken completely out of the context from Rush’s song Natural Science does however convey the labyrinthine plotting and execution of Idol. Together with one of the most bizarre opening lines that you are ever going to hear has Idol sitting almost on its own in the film noir genre.
From the beginning to the end the film demands concentration and focus as it slowly unfolds from when politician Koo Myung-hui (Han Seok-kyu) goes into his garage to find his wife cleaning the blood from their son’s car after a road accident. His son has killed Bu-nam the mentally challenged son of Yoo Joon-sik (Sul -Kyung-gu). Initially its straightforward; admit to the accident and take the rap, it was after all an accident.
From that the film develops and it’s best not to go into too much depth and give too much away suffice to say that the plot extends through several strands as a Koo gets deeper into a mire and a family search for the truth about their son’s death. As delicately as this is done Idol also has room to cast an eye over Korea’s hierarchal social structure, class divisions and gender imbalance.
Idol is not an overtly violent film. It is however brutal in its depiction of the aftermath of violence, and unflinching as it depicts the depths that some will go to manipulate and use; throwing people away once used demonstrating a cowardice and a casual sociopathy that is all too easy to believe.
Idol’s flow is a slow-burning process through shadow filled noiresque streets and locations revealed with by a brooding camera. However it’s not all shadows and mists as working from his rich complex script by director Lee Su-jin he also has first class cast so setting up some brilliantly evocative scenes as when Koo’s boy is in jail just listening to the questions, not saying anything just relaying everything he’s feeling through goggle eyes, and the final riveting sequence as the strands are all pulled tight for the denouement.