Go to contents

Cheating Family… Is It What Marriage`s All About?

Posted July. 31, 2003 21:57,   


Director Im Sang-soo, who is known for his previous work `Maids` Dinner,` has made another provocative movie titled `the Cheating Family.` And the audience might find this movie unkind and uncomfortable.

Young-jak (Hwang Jung-min) and Ho-jeong (Mun So-ri), the husband and the wife, had an affair with a photographer and a high school student next door respectively. They know what the other is doing, but hardly cares. Young-jak`s mother (Yun Yeo-jeong) sleeps with her primary school student while his sick husband dying of cancer. The movie, however, gives little explanation why this family is so messed up.

Yet, there is more than the shocking life of the family in this movie. The story is exaggerated but not entirely fictitious. It is `too` real in that it shatters the ideal image of a family. The director is being too harsh by making people face the reality.

Members of the cheating family in the movie do not return back to normal lives. They neither realize the value of family belatedly after indulging in sex. Ho-jeong masturbates before her husband, saying `You cannot satisfy me.` And Young-jak just watch it as if he says `So what.`

Although there are only a few movies that take the side with the institution of marriage like `the Happy End,` this movie still asks too blatantly, `Is this what marriage is all about. What will you do?`

Yeongjak and Hojeong are kind of cool, if you will. They don`t care about each other`s affair. Yeongjak says to Hojeong what is wrong with his dating another women. And Hojeong is not bothered by such a remark. When Yeongjak gives a sarcastic twist about Hojeong`s love affair, Hojeong`s answer goes just like this : Mind your own business.

Now they can no longer be called as a family. But their life represents the dilemma faced by families in this age. Hojeong said she is not treated as a woman contrary to her expectation before marriage that marriage will satisfy her sexual desire. Like her remark, the movie interprets marriage life as a process of finding oneself losing sexual attractiveness. Being a member of family means nothing more than assuring oneself that he or she belongs to the majority of the society, according to the movie.

In the scene where their adopted son Suin dies, director Im talks directly to the audience about the meaning of family in his mind. Jiru, who is a alcoholic in the movie, take a revenge on Yeongjak by kidnapping Suin and throw the kid away on top of a building without any hesitation.

Director Im said, “ Life is difficult for everyone. If having an affair cheers people up, there is no reason to resist the relationship. I hope the audience just enjoy the movie.”

Watching this movie is uncomfortable for both single and married people. Single people will be disillusioned with marriage while married people would feel that their life is laid bare in the movie. But that uncomfortable feeling is not downright gross as the movie is at least based on reality. The movie will come to theater on August 15 and is for people aged over 18.

Soo-Kyung Kim skkim@donga.com