3-Iron also known as Bin Jip (literal translation Empty Houses) is possibly my favourite film from acclaimed (and reviled) South Korean director Kim Ki-Duk. Kim is the film maker who brought us such wonderful and disturbing cinema in the form of Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter & Spring, The Isle and Bad Guy.
3-Iron is a love story with a difference, the most unusual ghost story
you'll ever see and quite simply a stunning and thought provoking piece
3-Iron is the story of Tae-Suk, who lives a solitary, ghostlike life breaking in to peoples houses whilst they're on vacation, experiencing what it is like to live their lives. He does their laundry and fixes things for them. In one house he meets the broken yet beautiful Sun-Hwa and his whole life changes.
Following up my recent explanation of the filmic term mise-en-scene over at Front Room Cinema, 3-Iron is the kind of movie you can point out to people and say "that's the importance of good direction," this movie could not exist without a strong guiding hand. It's all mise-en-scene.
This beautiful, slow moving, mystical film has so little dialogue you have to wonder what the script looked like and the auditioning process Kim Ki-Duk went through to find two lead actors who could give so much meaning to their every action.
Spring, Summer..... and The Isle were shot in some of the most beautiful locations imaginable and as such you could easily ignore the skill involved in creating the images found in those two very different movies but 3-Iron is largely filmed in tiny apartments and now you have to notice the care taken over every image because this film looks just as breathtaking as either of the other two movies.
Leah used the term magic realism to describe the overall feel of the piece and she's probably right. 99% of the story exists in reality but the 1% that you think isn't within the realms of possibility is what gives the movie a real edge. You will definitely have to think about what the movie means by the time the final credits roll, it is a movie that easily elicits an emotional response from the viewer but not in a shameless or obvious way and as with all magic realism you cannot possibly have a definite answer for what you've witnessed.
The relationship that develops between the two leads is told in such a way that images do all the talking for them, they don't interact in the usual sense. Tae-Suk slowly mends Sun-Hwa and she in turn helps him to find his place in the world.
And now I shall let the visuals do the talking for me, leave some blah below.