Movie Club : M Review
Welcome kdrama fans to the Dramafever review of the movie M. This weekend we were taken on a journey through the mind as memories, dreams and reality fought for control. Join Pamela, Unni Chan and I, Wendilynn as we try to puzzle together the pieces of this fractured story.
Pamela: Calling the movie “fractured” isn’t even an exaggeration...Even the apartment Min Woo and Eun Hye live in is set up in a sort of maze-like fashion. The settings were reflective of clutter and confusion that was Min Woo’s mindset, which I found pretty interesting.
Wendilynn: Yes, I did notice that every set piece added to the confusion that was going through Min Woo’s mind. I was excited to see this movie because I had seen the 4 part miniseries that this movie inspired called Mimi. So I knew the basic storyline going in. That probably helped me navigate the confusion better.
Unnichan: I knew nothing going in (which is how I like it), so it took me a little while to adjust to Lee Myung Se’s vision but once I got over that hurdle all was well, considering storytelling. And I’m glad I knew nothing because I may have felt the story too simplistic if I had. I liked knowing what was wrong but navigating through the “maze” with Lee.
Pamela: I also didn’t know anything when I decided to watch this movie, but it is pretty easy for me to adjust to a director’s take on and style for a story. The complexity that I could feel underneath whatever was going on was not too difficult to accept; the movie was more...fun that way - if “fun” can be used appropriately in this context...It’s entertaining when I feel suffocated by a movie.
Wendilynn: I had fun, but then I love these types of movies. Where it’s all about the tension and emotion of the story and not all about the special effects. Which there were very little if any computer graphics involved in the set pieces. We got such a neat array of lighting, mirrors and angles to play with as Lee Myung Se told his story of our suffering author.
Unnichan: The lighting was an aspect I kept coming to throughout the film, along with his use of the moon through streets lights, the open sky and a movie reel. Not to mention the split second dark to light to dark again. I appreciated the dream world, the shadows of the mind. Then to add that Min Woo had a little help in his mind muddling, made for quite the journey. However, I did find that I never felt fully connected to any of the characters. Something that was no doubt purposeful, given the dreamscape.
Pamela: That’s understandable. I think what those dream and real worlds did was allow us to simply observe the state of Min Woo’s mind. We were not given much of a background at first, so we couldn’t connect to the characters in that sense. At the same time, though, as audience members, we were discovering the workings of Min Woo’s mind as he was losing control of said workings. We found out his past as he remembered it over the course of the movie. Everyone else was either fueling his mini-outbursts or, in Eun Hye’s case, worrying and also observing.
Wendilynn: Eun Hye played a unique role in that she was almost our only grounding to reality. If she was involved, it was mostly when Min Woo was at his most lucid. She forced him, through their love for each other, to give him that much needed reality check. As a writer dealing with writer’s block, he was having all sorts of psychological reactions, such as the insomnia and vomiting. His body was at first rejecting the memories that Mimi was forcing him to come to grips with. I also agree that the disconnect for the audience to the characters was deliberate. While the miniseries allowed me to connect closely with Min Woo and Mimi, this movie did not do that. We were kept as unsettled and confused as Min Woo was and even as Mimi was until she realized her state of being.
Unnichan: I agree that Eun Hye grounded us all. And I believe it was their love and Min Woo’s desire for complete happiness that triggered his need to deal with Mimi and their memories in the first place (notwithstanding his medication). Min Woo’s search for their story was something that made this movie work for me. Because it gave the narrative heart. It wasn’t necessarily he and Mimi’s past or his present with Eun Hye but the underlying motive behind his mental block, unravel and continuous dig to find what was missing.
Pamela: And in searching, he wasn’t sure how to deal with each development that arose. Each new piece to the puzzle - Mimi’s appearance, the smoking, the shared past, and so on - found its way into Min Woo’s life somehow. I could see how his attempts to comprehend were overflowing him in that way, hence my feeling of suffocation. Eun Hye was there to bring Min Woo back to reality, but it was up to Min Woo himself to get to the point where he could understand the relationship his past had to his present, if that makes sense...
Wendilynn: He had to put the pieces together first before he could get back to reality. What did you guys think of Mimi’s story?
Pamela: First, let’s give a round of applause to Wendilynn-unni for putting my nonsense into words.
Wendilynn: lol, you made sense to me. My favorite character in this movie is Mimi. She has to piece together what happened to her as much as Min Woo was being forced to piece his life together. All she knew at first was that she liked this guy. And that she could not let him alone. And that she was being chased by “something” with a cane/umbrella. In many ways, Min Woo’s journey was her own journey as well. She was just as fractured in her memories as he was and that collided badly in Min Woo’s head at first.
Unnichan: Mimi was an interesting character and Lee Yeon Hee did a very decent job in her portrayal. She isn’t the most solid of actresses in her generation but for one of her first film outings, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve seen her in several dramas before and since (2007) and this gives me at least one more project to add to my list for her. If I’d seen this first I would have never felt Miss Korea was a fluke. However, like I said, I never truly felt I knew Mimi. At one point, perhaps I was let in to her purpose and her motivation but ultimately, I always felt that I was looking at another’s idea of her, until the very end. I didn’t have a problem with that per se but it did make me feel that the Mimi I saw relied upon someone else’s mind and view and only existed because of that vision, rather than in and of herself. She was never truly a separate entity for me. Not until her ending.
Pamela: Most of her existence as a character seemed that she was only able to appear to Min Woo when his mind was in certain states, so that makes sense, Unnichan. There were moments we were able to see her as someone else, but those were all moments of fear, such as when she was being pursued by Mr. Glass Hook Or Umbrella Thingy. Otherwise, she was kind of an enigma that we couldn’t fully grasp for a while.
Wendilynn: I agree that she starts out as a perfect illusion, which fits since she was a ghost of a memory. Literally. As Mimi and Min Woo put more of the pieces together, she gets a grittier or less perfect appearance. But keep in mind, she wasn’t just a memory either.
Unnichan: So would you recommend this film as a stand alone or would you suggest more research before viewing? Do you think it’s a good film to jump into cold turkey?
Wendilynn: I think the movie stands alone just fine. I can recommend this to anyone. For those who want to see more of this storyline, I would recommend the 4 part miniseries, Mimi, that stars Max Changmin from TVXQ as Min Woo and Moon Ga Young as Mimi. It develops the characters more and its a little less fractured in its story telling. Its also excellently told.
Pamela: That’s been on my eternally long PTW list for a little while, but now it’s gotten pushed up in my priorities...To watch this movie, some might have to dispel their expectations of what makes a good movie, because the movie didn’t need a lot. It’s able to stand alone, I think, because it’s got a simplicity and a complexity to it that you can buy into pretty quickly. It’s...deep...dude. *insert Kang Dong Won’s maniacal laugh*
Unnichan: I think it’s best to keep in mind this is an independent film therefore artistry is highly important and for some viewers can be problematic. If you’re one to focus on characters and story, it’s best to go into this knowing that the focus isn’t just the what is or isn’t happening in every frame. And there’s no way I could forget the greatness of watching Kang Dong Won become each character he creates. I love his chameleon like quality as a performer.
Wendilynn: True, Kang Dong Won was brilliant in this. I would have to agree that if a person is wanting a straightforward movie that you can just watch without thinking about it much, this is not the movie for them. This one is going to throw you sideways and shake you up a little and then slowly put the pieces back together.
Pamela: That’s what we need in a movie sometimes. Throw Kang Dong Won, creepiness, mystery, and a bit of Gong Hyo Jin into a pot, and you get a fulfilling experience that twists your mind into an “M”.
Did you enjoy M as much as we did? Did you get the storyline or were you confused? Let us know in the comments below what you thought of the movie.
Did you enjoy another round of movie reviewing from Team Memory? Check us out in the links below!
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