“Sympathy is the worst of the seven deadly sins.”
Title credits built into the opening scene shout: “I Know Where I’m Going!,” but the cartoonish situations, lively editing and bright colorful cinematography reply: “Amelie!” Maybe Park was afraid of being typecast as a grim downer of a filmmaker, a Korean David Fincher, and so like other grim young typecast filmmakers before him (Danny Boyle, Robert Rodriguez) he set out to make something light and lively to prove that he can – but maybe not as light as conceivably possible since it’s set in a mental institution.
Our girl Young-goon is a bit of a sociopath and likes to talk to machines. Cute boy Il-soon is a thief, but steals intangible things: a ping pong serve, someone’s appetite, Thursday. Other colorful patients include a fat girl obsessed with her skin, a super-polite guy who walks backwards and spends all day apologizing, a girl who only looks at her hand mirror.
Park includes a violent kill-all-authority-figures fantasy into his light mental-illness comedy when the girl (who is, of course, a cyborg) fantasizes her hands becoming guns, blowing away all the nurses. She very nearly starves herself to death (cyborgs do not eat human food) but she’ll be okay in the end, thanks to the cute boy who truly understands her.
In true Amelie style this has got wonderful visuals so those who aren’t enchanted by the story and characters can delight in the cinematography (and accordian music, hmmm) – Park’s got all his bases covered. His filmmaking genre versatility proven, the typecast of dark sadistic violent films safely behind him, it sounds like Park has just turned in a dark sadistic violent vampire movie at Cannes 2009, heh.
Recommended listening: Become a Robot by They Might Be Giants