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Posted March. 17, 2006 03:08,   


“Bewitching Attraction,” released on March 16, is a movie name designed to seduce filmgoers. Together with a poster of its characters in suggestive poses, the movie promises naughtiness.

Of course, there’s the standard fare of tumbles in bed and lots of skin. But to get to the conclusion, the poster is a misrepresentation. The film doesn’t heat up your blood; it makes your temples throb trying to figure things out.

Eun-suk (Moon So-ri) is a professor of fabric dyeing and a green activist in a small province, enjoying the endless line of adoring men at her feet. Eun-suk has an affair with a married man named Kim PD (Park Won-sang) at a television station, but rejects the entreaties of elementary school teacher Yoo (Yoo Seung-mok), who loves her. One day, a lecturer of drawing named Seok-gyu (Ji Jin-hee) comes to the same university. Eun-suk is in a state of consternation, as Seok-gyu has her past, every nook and cranny, searched.

To tell you the truth, there is no “bewitching attraction.” Eun-suk’s past, which we are made to believe holds some grand mind-blowing secret, turns out to be nothing we’d give a second thought to. But there’s something to be said for the clamor around the nonexistent bewitchment. Eun-suk, who’s so caught up in her fantasy of herself as some sex bomb with secrets men will drool for, is the laughingstock of the movie.

So Moon So-ri is quite an exquisite casting choice. Her plain looks are transformed into something marvelous in a small town lacking any type of beauty. The situation is a feat in itself.

When it turns out the white collar workers like professors or producer-directors are actually vulgar and crude, and that environmentalists like Eun-suk throw trash out whenever and wherever, the movie starts to mock their hypocrisy. Looking at a drunken Eun-suk trying to keep her figure poised and sexy, we arrive to the feeling that the movie is sneering at all the airs anyone has ever put on in this world.

But the problem is, the movie gradually falls into the trap of becoming exactly what it’s ridiculing. Like Eun-suk, the movie is trying to look bigger and grander than what it really is.

Eun-suk’s limp, fast-forwarded sex, the untimely deaths of characters, the theatrical lines, and Eun-suk’s high-pitched voice that nobody could possibly use in real life; all of these elements brings a unique flavor to the movie. The numerous symbols that the director placed all over the movie, however, only make it look like a really abstract poem. The untrodden path to showing the absurdities of life has now become the road taken, over and over again.

A movie under the delusion that unfriendliness is intelligence, may just be another type of hypocrisy. A debut feature film for Lee Ha, for ages 18 and over.

Seung-Jae Lee sjda@donga.com