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"Love Is Weird, Isn`t It? "

Posted May. 08, 2003 22:15,   


"You look so gorgeous to hammer your face out!”

As if she had waited for this weird expression of love, she replies, "Like to dig out your eyeballs and suck them up!"

What a scary expression of love! The two main characters of Punch-Drunk Love, which came to theater yesterday, exchange the dialog at a scene where they get to realize they are just made for each other.

In this age dried up of emotions, only shocking therapy works? Weird dramas are coming out in a row, where shocking, unusual actions are depicted as the most sincere way of expressing love.

Also the motion picture Talk To Her portrays a male nurse`s love of a female patient who is in coma. His expression of love appears as a sexual offense or harassment to the ordinary folks. But the movie depicts it as a power of miracle that wakes her out of coma.

Far From Heaven, which will come to theater on May 23, features a middle class white husband, who confesses his homosexuality, and his wife, who feels attracted to an African-American gardener. The film takes its setting in the 1950s. And its topics are the ones that were considered as a taboo in that time. But the movie treats the taboo things as normal. Why? It`s about love, and people can help it.

All of these three movies have focused on unusual and popular topics. Nevertheless, the overseas viewers praised them. Punch-Drunk Love won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The Times selected Talk to Her as the best movie of 2002. And Far From Heaven won the Best Actress Award at the Venice Film Festival.

The directors of the three movies have one thing in common: depiction of homosexuals coming out of the closet. Movie critic Shim Young-sup opines, "They originally targeted at a selected group of viewers. But advancing into the genre of drama, they worked out weird, but sincere love stories, which have led to conjunction of the mainstream and the cult-movie indies."

All of the three films intentionally express emotions in an exaggerated way. Also in them, the love story is not realistic; it is fine-tuned and manipulated. Talk to Her closes up a face full of tears and uses the dance of Pina Bausch in order to heighten the emotion. On the other hand, Punch-Drunk Love melts everything into the shade when the lovers kiss. Far From Heaven, in the meanwhile, features decorative colors and exaggerated move of the camera. The origin of a certain feeling does not matter. The woman in Punch-Drunk Love and the male nurse in Talk to Her love their partners without any condition, and work out miracles.

US play scholar Daniel Mendelson, in his article contributed to The New York Times early this year, analyzed the resurrection of this type of dramas, which exaggerate human feelings, and commented, "It`s part of our age. Only a couple of years ago, people would laugh at TV anchors mentioning words like hero, bad guys and enemy. Now, no one does. It`s like this change."

Mendelson alleges that the traditional tragedy is a genre of democracy. It has to fight with valid, but various alternatives and unsolved dilemmas.

On the other hand, history has treated as political fall the dramas that do not care about the source of a certain emotion and cares only about the feeling itself. In ancient city states like Athens where democracy prospered, abstained plays like those of Sophocles` were welcomed, while Euripides` works, which featured remarkable works of emotion, dominated the declining days of the states. In short, the dramas we are seeing these days, which pursue heightening of emotions and climax of love through adoption of unusual motifs, are a form of the desperate entertainment that is bound to come up in an age when various alternatives are condensed into a conflict between the good and the evil, and when emotions are dried up.

Hee-Kyung Kim susanna@donga.com