Alice in Earnestland (Sungsilhan Naraui Aellisu, 2015)

Korean Art Service DVD edition (outer sleeve)

The Great Lee Jung-hyun as the unlucky Soo-nam

Text below written 2016-08-04


Ha, ha, ha! I Loved this. Delightfully bizarre and unhinged drama, both tragic and comical and with a Great Lee
Jung-hyun as the slightly deranged married woman Jeong Soo-nam. A hard-working woman pushed far beyond
her limits. A Woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown i guess Pedro Almodovar would call her.
Sure, this film may be aimed at the Cult Crowd as some highbrow film reviewer put it, and maybe in the same vein
as the obscure favourite A Bloody Aria (2006) or even as the beloved cult favourite Save the Green Planet (2003).
But, i don't see anything wrong with that, me myself i consider belonging to that niche audience. I'm sure this writer
meant "cult crowd" in a derogatory way in contrast to himself, the serious film lover preferring more pretentious
film fare. But, a film that earns a Cult reputation among the more daring viewers surely has got some moments to
it, something memorable and unusual, some unique quality.

Korean Film of the Year 2015 (for me, that is)

Korean Art Service DVD edition (inner sleeve)

A Highbrow film critic may prefer watching Hong Sang-soo's 184th snoozathon film with lots of academics
eating, drinking, talking and fu--ing, but i much prefer a wild untamed masterpiece as Save the Green Planet ....
and then, i confess, i also like to watch Hong Sang-soo films, there's something charming about them.

Well, with that said, i don't put Alice in Earnestland up on the same high level as Jang Jun-hwan's Save the
Green Planet but it felt Fresh and it had some hypnotic power over you, how would this catastrophical saga of
the loving wife and hard-working woman Jeong Soo-nam end? You just had to see the mess.
It felt like this film could've been made 10 years ago during the Golden Years, and that gave me, belonging to
the Cult Crowd audience, a warm pleasant feeling in my whole body. Yes, there's violence, but there's also
a whole lot of delightful quirky humour from female Debut Director Ahn Gook-jin.
I do hope she won't get tamed and bought/forced to do mainstream fodder (as the unlucky Jang Jun-hwan
who capsized badly with his Hwayi - A Monster Boy in 2013)

The Film is told in 3 chapters and starts at the Maseok Community Center and the Free Counseling Service
where a woman storms in at closing time and ties and gags the psychiatrist (Seo Young-hwa) up.
Then the scared psychiatrist has to listen to what this deranged woman's has to tell her, and it's a long story.
The Flashback follows and the woman, Jeong Soo-nam (Lee Jung-hyun) starts her reminiscences with High
School where she was a top student, but was told by some chauvinist pig that only her body mattered.
Dejected she starts working at a factory where she meets her soon to be husband (Lee Hae-young) and he's
not just deaf, he's also a very misfortunate man. He accidently cuts his own fingers off and has to leave work
and live at home, and Soo-nam now has to work even harder to supply their living.

How to make her sad husband happy? She works double, she works triple .... as a cleaning woman, in a
restaurant, as a newspaper deliverer without her husband knowing. After 9 years of hard work, it's time for
the surprise, Soo-nam has bought them a small house in Seoul, a city where the living costs a fortune.
Is he happy, will they now live together without economic worries?
No, he hangs himself. Poor Soo-nam. But, doesn't die, instead he falls in a coma and will forever live as a
vegetable in the Hospital, with sky-high bills raining over the already burnt out Soo-nam.

Now, Soo-nam rents out her house and lives herself in a room the size of a closet. At last, something like luck
seems to come her way, when the area with her house in Maseok, Seoul, are chosen to be re-developed by
the city authorities and with the expected result - a massive rise of the property value.
But, a certain psychiatrist also lives in Maseok, outside of the chosen area, and she's an important member
of the local Citizens Committee, and she's not happy with the current re-development plans. And now things
really start going out of control in - The Strange Adventures of an Unhappy Wife.

Obviously talented Director and Screenwriter Ahn Gook-jin won Best Screenplay award in 2016 at the
Paeksang Arts Awards, and the oh so Lovely Lee Jung-hyun a Best Actress award in 2015 at the 36th Blue
Dragon Film Awards. Let's hope for a glorious future for both these ladies

Anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1, korean audio 5.1 or 2.0 with english subs. Extras without english subs:
4 min cast/crew, 7 min storyboard comparison, 2,5 promo footage, trailer, a commentary with crew/cast in
korean without english subs (noooo, painful, i really would've liked to listen to this with subs) and a
plastbag with Postcards from the film

 

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