The Bacchus Lady / 죽여주는 여자 / JukyeojuNeun Yeoja (2016)
Director: E J-yong
Screenplay: E J-yong
Cast: Youn Yuh-jung, Chon Moo-song, Yoon Kye-sang, An A-zu
The next screening of this film will be on July 25.
This is a very interesting portrait of an elderly prostitute, So-Young (Youn Yuh-jung), who takes in a half Korean/half Filipino kid while making money soliciting elderly men in the park with a particular brand of energy drink (Bacchus). Her landlady (An A-zu) and neighbor, Do-Hoon (Yoon Kye-sang), also help with babysitting the kid. However, her clients aren’t getting any younger and when one asks her to help him commit suicide, it leads So-Young down a path that she does not want to follow.
For those who are interested in social issues, this movie has plenty. It’s not done in your face but rather is part of the story and background of the characters who are all normal people but have their own regrets. It touches on migrant issues, mixed kids and the isolation felt by elderly people and the lack of sympathy from their family members. In the latter third of the movie, more focus is put on some of So-Young’s elderly clients, one who is bed ridden and another who’s depressed. Any joy that was seen earlier in the movie slowly drains and leads to a sad conclusion. There are moments that tend to drag a bit too long and some things happen that I think require a better understanding of Korean values or cultural expectations in order to really understand.
There are some scenes where she services her clients but nothing explicit is shown in terms of nudity. Mostly implied blowjobs. These scenes are shown as pretty mundane although at least one client shows a bit of aggressiveness that portrays the more demeaning aspects of a prostitute’s job.
The acting is all very good. Youn Yu-jung is nuanced and convincing with the many different emotions that she has to portray. You certainly have to be in a certain mindset to watch this film. It’s not entertaining but it’s thought provoking and Youn’s performance alone is worth the admission.
This film was watched in the theatre at the Fantasia Film Festival.