Friday, November 9, 2012

Film Review : A Werewolf Boy

A new guest contribution by Oded Aronson. – D.D.

A Werewolf Boy (Jo Sung-hee, 2012)
**** (Masterpiece) 

A figure crouches in darkness.  He is scared of his own shadow.  He doesn’t have contact with anyone or anything.  He is alone.
Meanwhile, a new family moves into the property where he lives.  They have moved to the countryside far away from the city’s overwhelming smog in order to attempt improving the health of Suni, their oldest daughter. 
Since the lone figure has stayed to himself for so long, no one knows that he exists.  One night, Suni wanders the property’s grounds on her own, wishing she was anywhere but in that dull place.  The meeting between her and the lone figure is inevitable.
Slowly, the two of them begin to trust each other, but the fact remains that they might as well come from different planets.  He’s a werewolf; wild, feral and knows nothing of human mannerisms.  He lacks the ability to speak, and thinks like an animal.  Eventually, the Suni family discover that the most effective way to deal with him is to train him as though he is a dog.  They also give him a name:  Chul-Soo.
Although progress is very slow, eventually the Suni family comes to understand that Chul-Soo is a  special man whose physical strength, ability to adapt to many situations, and extraordinary kindness is without parallel.  Others cannot see these capabilities in Chul-Soo because in many ways, he is not like them.  He growls at strangers, chomps his food like a maniac, and does not have the ability to contain his emotions.  Chul-Soo does not have the capability to smile through tears; when he is happy, he literally bounds across the room with joy; when he is sad or angry, his growls can be heard miles away. 
One person in particular who cannot abide Chul-Soo is Ji-Tai, the young man who owns the property.  Ji-Tai is an arrogant man who believes he is entitled to special treatment because he collects cash from the people who live in his property.  He openly mocks the dwellers for having less money than he does and every time he opens his mouth to talk about anything, it has the same portentous quality that arises when people learn there will be an upcoming earthquake.
He is also in love with Suni.
For Chul-Soo, Suni is more than just an attractive girl; even though she was afraid of him at first, Suni made the effort to understand and talk to him. Chul-Soo knows deep down that no one else would have been willing to make the effort to understand him on a deep emotional, instinctual, and intellectual level simultaneously. Ji-Tai can see almost immediately that Chul-Soo loves Suni, which makes him a threat to the relationship between Suni and himself that exists only in his mind. 
Consequently, Ji-Tai resorts to gradually more desperate measures to attempt to kill Chul-Soo.  He tries to make the people around him see Chul-Soo as nothing more than a beast whose only intent is to harm others. The fact that some people believe Ji-Tai emphasizes that in some cases, people will willingly side with people they know are bullies if that is what it takes to get rid of societal elements that they hate, fear and misunderstand. 
Fear of the unknown is difficult to deal with, and everybody thinks that their own way of dealing with fear is the most effective because it has allowed them to make peace with the processes which take place inside their own minds. Some people, like Ji-Tai, prefer to lash out and destroy anything which makes life inconvenient for them, while some others (such as Suni) try to talk to others and understand what is going on in both their own minds and the minds of those around them. 
A Werewolf Boy is a deeply intense, emotional plea for all of us to try to understand one another in the midst of chaos.     

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