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Samaritan Girl aka Samaria April 27, 2009

Posted by gtoproject in Korean Movie.
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Plot

Yeo-jin and Jae-yeong are two teenage girls who are trying to earn money for a trip to Europe. To reach this end, Jae-yeong is prostituting herself while Yeo-jin acts as her pimp, setting her up with the clients and staying on guard for the police. Things take a turn for the worse when Yeo-jin gets distracted from her duty and the police raid the motel where Jae-yeong is meeting with a client. To avoid getting caught, Jae-yeong jumps out of a window, fatally injuring herself.

After Jae-yeong’s death, Yeo-jin blames herself and to ease her own conscience, sets to return all of the money they earned to the clients while sleeping with them herself. Eventually Yeo-jin’s father, a policeman, is devastated when he discovers what she is doing. He starts following her discreetly and confronts her clients with escalatingly violent results. On the last time, he ends up brutally killing a client.

For the rest of its duration, the movie follows the father and daughter on a short trip to the countryside, where they both sense something is wrong with the other, but are unable to confront each other directly. In the end, the law catches up with the father, who hopes to have done enough to prepare Yeo-jin for her life without him.

samaria

Reception

As with many other films by Kim Ki-duk, Samaritan Girl was not a box office success in its home country, but was better received overseas. In the film’s first large scale showing it won the Silver Bear, the second place award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2004. After this, it became a sought after film for other international film festivals.

Main cast

* Kwak Ji-min – Yeo-jin
* Lee Eol – Yeong-ki (Yeo-jin’s father)
* Han Yeo-reum – Jae-yeong (as Seo Min-jeong)

Review:

Acclaimed Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk filmed Samaritan Girl in between the two films that would bring him international acclaim, Spring Summer Fall Winter…and Spring and 3-Iron, although this is not really a lesser film in terms of provocative and fascinating subject matter. Although the story is a simple one, the themes run very deep, marrying the occupation of prostitution with religious healing, with sex as a means for bringing happiness to those who partake, as evidenced by the perpetual smile on the young girl’s face for making her men feel joy, if only for a few minutes. Beneath this, it is also a tale of love between two girls, one that feels a higher calling and another that sees the euphemistic blessings as a sin, and also what took her love away. She seeks to reverse the pattern as a way of paying back and washing away the shamefulness of everything that has taken place. The final player in this three-part act is the father that can’t come to terms with his virginal daughter’s innocence given so freely away to men undeserving of such a thing. Although he doesn’t understand Yeo-jin’s motivations, he is also following in her footsteps, doing his own part to see that her deeds are atoned for, only his methods of operation include righteous retribution.

Samaritan Girl isn’t an easy film to understand fully, although I suppose one could watch it as a straight narrative, but that’s probably only seeing half of the full story. Motifs abound, especially of stones and of concrete, and how these can bring life and death in varying ways — a burial marker, a murder weapon, a way to ward off the unwanted, something hard to fall on, a way to get stuck, a way to free oneself, and a way to come into womanhood. At the same time that one may not come away understanding the symbolic significance of things in the film, so too is Samaritan Girl not an easy film to like outright. It deals with subject matter we don’t like to see or know exists in this world, and the way events play out, we grow increasingly sure that there can be no road back to happiness once the domino effect of these disturbing events chain react.

Samaritan Girl is a film that some will not quite feel the impact of until after seeing it, as the images and events of the film settles uneasily in one’s mind in a way that can only be resolved through contemplation and understanding. In the end, it’s about guilt, shame, and forgiveness. Shame for a girl, shame for a family, and as a growing epidemic, a shame for a country. Ultimately, it puts a face on the smiling young girls as sympathetic, putting the blame for this problem on the men that seek to use them, because they do not see how adversely the prostitution effects the lives of these children and their friends and families while in he confines of a hotel room for a few minutes. As Kim may have intentionally set forth in his morality tale, if the men who willingly pay for child prostitutes can see the full picture, as Samaritan Girl painstakingly portrays in its own metaphoric fashion, perhaps the tide can finally be turned on a problem that is currently running rampant in his native country of Korea, and indeed, throughout Asia and the world.

Source: Wikipedia, qwipster

My Rating: 7.5

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