Pluto (2013, Myungwangsung)

UK Third Window Films Blu-ray

Sung Jun, Lee Daw-it

Text below written 2015-11-07


YES!
Yes, a High School Crime Drama .... or Thriller maybe .... or Horror ? An exciting new directing talent has
burst onto the South Korean film scene - Shin Su-won. New, really? Well, for me she's new even though she's born
in 1967 and has been making Short films for over a decade before this, and she has gained critical praise for them also.
She made her first full feature film in 2010 with Passerby #3 and i think Pluto is her second feature film. In 2015 she
she has made Madonna, a crime drama i want to see. Pluto is the first film from Shin i've seen and i want more.
She worked as a teacher before her film career so she obviously had material for Pluto.

Pluto, an AMAZING indie take on the korean high school genre with sharp criticism of the harsh school system in
South Korea (also a problem in Japan it seems) which creates an inhuman pressure on the young students to succeed
in their studies and with their future careers and to make their families proud. Lots of social pressure on the kids.
I'm not sure about which type of school this Se Young High School in the film is, a regular high school or some sort of
university prep school? We have seen lots and lots of high school films from Korea and Japan the last 15 years or so,
with bullying, with fighting, with killings, with ghosts, with romance and with comedy.
But with this film we don't get just the usual elements of bullying and teenage violence. Shin gives us a slightly different
take on the genre with some class-conflict/struggle issues that leads to the Revenge, and i think there may be some
dark satire there too. Sometimes this film looks like it will give you the usual genre clichés with bullying and violence,
but then it suddenly surprises you with gripping moments and unconventional cinematic solutions.
This film is too uneven to be a masterful film but it's Very Good due to it's new fresh take on the high school genre.

Third Window Films - I Love You Guys

An inhuman school system leads to nihilism and even murder in a university prep school. Not the usual High School
horror and one of the most promising korean films i've seen in many years.

Disobedience against ejecting Pluto from the solar system - that's the theme for Junes science subject essay,
and it's not about Pluto the roman god of the underworld but about criticism of the demotion of ex-ninth planet Pluto
of our solar sustem to a dwarf planet. In 2006 the classifications of a planet was changed and poor Pluto demoted
to a piece of rubble among others in the outskirts of our solar system due to its smallness and elliptical course.
Yes, astronomy is an interest of High school student June and a clever and poetic grounding for the films plot.

Kim Ju-ne (Lee David/Da-wit) is a 18-19 years old student that transfers to an elite (university prep-) high school
in preparation for university studies. He lives with his hardworking mother (she's selling insurances) and they're not
rich and can hardly pay the fees. June was the top student at his last school but here he's a nobody, 67th in the tests.
This really is an elite school for the elite of the elite and only a few will get to continue in a top university, and only
one (1) student will be picked for the University of Seoul's special exclusive class and a powerful future.
He soon finds
out that the students from the richest families are the one's thats always are topping the tests. The Top 10.
These students, that may vary after each test result, gets to attend the Special Class with extra tuitoring on evenings.
The no.1 student is Taylor Yu-jin (Sung Jun) born in USA and he leads a group of 4-5 students incl. Myung-ho and
Mi-ra and they rule with terror. Nihilistic brats with rich parents and surely unhappy they bully and even murder.

The film is told with time jumps and starts with the dead body of Yu-jin and the police questioning the sullen suspect,
June. The other students don't like June and tell the police he was jealous of brilliant Yu-jin, and the story unfolds.
Great as Junes only friendly classmate is charismatic Kim Kkobbi as Jung Soo-jin, an ally against the evil rich kid junta.
We feel Junes rage and the scene with his poor mother trying to hire an snotty extra-techer to June was sad and
gripping. What an interesting mix of High School drama, horror, revenge, satire, rage against the system this was,
and even though it was a bit uneven it still was the most interesting film i've seen from South Korea for years.
There's only one problem - the expectations for her next film, Madonna (2015), will be HUGE

widescreen, 5.1 korean with english subtitles. Extra: interview with director and scriptwriter Shin Su-won (29 min,
korean with subs, 2014) and she tells us that she worked with/prepared this film for 7 years, trailer, interview with
Kim Kkobbi (15 min in english and korean with subs), celebrity screening footage, trailers for 3 other films (Land
of Hope by Sion Sono, Vulgaria by Pang Ho-Cheung and How To Use Guys with Secret Tips by Lee Won-suk

 

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