Far be it for me to tell an established filmmaker what to do, but perhaps the next time director Jong-jae Im decides to make a movie he should choose a protagonist that is actually alive. Which is to say Jun, the lead character in Im’s movie “My Beautiful Days”, is as interesting as watching paint dry, and I do believe I’m insulting paint everywhere by making that comparison.
As with almost all South Korean film that has found its way to the States, “My Beautiful Days” is a technically competent film, and the use of stark, naturalistic lightning is obviously a choice and not the result of a small budget. Like most of its South Korean brethren, “Days” falls in love with the technique of unblinking (and barely moving) camera that is content to observe the movements (or lack thereof) within the movie from a safe distance, remaining unattached and uninvolved from beginning to end. And in a movie like “Days”, which has nothing to offer by way of entertainment or insight, perhaps a camera that doesn’t get involve is appropriate.
There is so much about “Days” that I’m sure just isn’t meant for me, or anyone with any need for something as trivial as entertainment value (tongue firmly in cheek, of course), that I’m hardpressed to express just how…uninteresting this movie is from top to bottom.
“My Beautiful Days” tells the tale of Jun (Hyung-sung Kim), a young 20-something whose life, over a period of weeks, is chronicled in the movie. Jun is serving in the “service” part-time, which I think makes him something akin to a National Guardsman, although I’m not sure why he is directing traffic at a business building (?). And Jun also works at a traditional laundrymat.
Well, that’s about it for Jun. Really, that really is all there is to the man. He’s a Gen-Xer, although his inability to get blood pumping through his veins (so he’ll actually look and act as if he’s alive, I mean) should make all Gen-Xers cringe (myself included). Jun has no future, no prospects, and doesn’t seem to care that his life is one meaningless relationship after another. Besides doing traffic as part of his military service (I still don’t understand this part) Jun is sleeping with a married woman, is trying to get back into the life of his ex-girlfriend, and is actively pursuing the ex-girlfriend’s younger sister.
Actually, saying that Jun is “actively” doing anything is a mistake, because Jun, and the movie, doesn’t “do” anything “actively.” There is so little going on emotionally or physically in “Days” that it is painful to experience. The whole movie is painfully, dreadfully, terribly, and nonchalantly dull.
When director Jong-jae Im came up with the concept of making a film about a lifeless young man who does nothing all day but hump like a mechanical piston and stare soullessly into the camera, what was he thinking? Of course, I know what Im was thinking. He thought he had come up with the perfect movie — the kind of movie no one else is doing. Well you know what, Im? The reason no one else is doing a movie like this is because you would have to be in a coma to find it worthwhile to watch.
All the above being said, “My Beautiful Days” does have a good subplot about Gye-nam Myeong as Jun (no relation to the lead character), the laundrymat owner who used to be a painter, but has since hung up his brushes for some unexplained reason. Myeong’s Jun is the only interesting thing in the whole movie, but unfortunately he only exists as a peripheral character. I guess he was just too interesting for his own good…
Jong-jae Im (director)
CAST: Hyun-sung Kim …. Jun-i
Eun-jin Bang …. Mi-yeong
Gye-nam Myeong …. Laundry man