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Great openings more often than not, presage great
movies. Think of Apocalypse
Nows hallucinatory reverie,
Based on real events, Memories of Murder takes place in 1986 rural
Usually, serial-killer movies follow exceptionally skilled cops, even when they are relative amateurs like Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, and they romanticize both cop and killer. Park is the opposite of Starling not terribly bright or compassionate and more than willing to torture suspects to get a confession. He cant control crowds at the crime scene, loses vital evidence, and has a partner whos even more inept than he is. The movie gets a lot of laughs out of them, especially when Park comes up with a peculiar hypothesis regarding the killers pubic hair. Still, they are not Inspector Clouseau and Bongs somber style keeps the tone sober.
Park finds a foil in the solemn Detective Seo Tae-Yoon (Kim Sang-Kyung), who comes from
As the film progresses, it becomes less about the actual identity of the serial killer and more about the nature of truth. Just what kind of proof is needed to be sure something is true? How much truth does one fashion for oneself with the need to believe? How reliable is intuition? Does torture work or does it only make those tortured say what the torturer wants to hear? As the investigation takes its toll on Park and Seo, their differences in tactics and their need to solve the case may not be so divergent after all.
Memories of Murder has a great opening and it also has a visceral, heartbreaking ending. The film carries viewers through the ups and downs of the exhaustive investigation for two hours and then places them in the shoes of the protagonists, asking for a slippery judgment call. Its a decision that reveals as much about the viewer as it does about the characters. That also makes for a great movie.
- George Wu