Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (2000)

Awkwaaard
Awkwaaard

Genre: Romance Drama (South Korea)

Starring: Eun-ju Lee (Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War), Seong-kun Mun

Directed By: Sang-soo Hong (Turning Gate)

Overview: This is a cryptic look at memory and relationships as expressed in this twice-told tale of a couple's encounters and budding romance.

Performance:

Eun-ju Lee was twenty years old when she made this film, and her performance is an interesting display of a 'curious observer' method of relationship experience gathering. Quiet and meek, she seems to prefer learning by watching, letting this suitor show her what she should do. Their interaction explores the growing pains of adapting to sexual relationships without the safety net of previous experience, and though the roles themselves do not seem all that challenging, we're left with the knowledge that these actors were comfortable in their skin as average Joes.
Rating: 8

Performance:

Character studies, I'm sure, are fun for actors since they delve deeply into the character's self that is the story, but why on Earth would I want to watch three inept Asians fumble around each other all while trying to figure out which one of them is the least annoying? I guess the only thing worse would be the realization that the amount of dead air in this film is about as long as the story. Slow South Korean direction might just not be as Zen to North Americans...
Rating: 6

Cinematography:

There's nothing like watching low-budget film for that 'look how crappy video can get' effect. When you think Indy Film on a shoestring budget, you might be blessed by having Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors be the first thought to jump in your head forever after this viewing. I thought South Korea was civilized, why does every gorgeous shot have tragic pixelization like low-res Camcorder footage?!
Rating: 5

Cinematography:

Shot in Glorious Black and White, I often found myself drawn into the backdrops presented to us over the actions of the characters. In fact, I often thought that part of the message being conveyed was that the static scenery of nature and architecture was far more peaceful and serene than the fleeting and odd exchanges we have with one another early in new relationships.
Rating: 8

Script:

We start with an ever so generic exchange that we all understand clearly: the telephone conversation between a man pining for a woman, and the woman who pines to be off the phone. From there we follow the natural chain of events that led up to this moment. If the characters weren't well enough defined by their actions, their words speak the ever-common and understandable, which is quite a complimentary contrast to the confusion that we often see being played out.
Rating: 8

Script:

I don't care how meek you are, when someone yells at you that he wants to be your boyfriend in a serious relationship, that's a huge red flag of clinginess. The story opens up with a phone conversation that clearly implies this relationship is over. It comes to a point, in BOTH stories, where the male character is wrong, always wrong, stalker-grade, arrestable-class wrong. DTMFA.
Rating: 6

Plot:

What in God's name on this Good Green Earth Hell is up with that random incest scene?! Who does that? Is this a tweaky Korean culture thing, cause I don't get it. And um, not to ruin the movie for you but about half way through, the movie starts over, and not necessarilly from another person's perspective (though probably, but not certainly, but confusingly, and purposefully so). 'Slice Of Life' films: A.K.A. 'Plotless'.
Rating: 5

Plot:

Lately, I've been thinking of films that emulate life, moments of dramatic normalcy that could be considered interesting if framed properly or, in the right context, would be endearing or would teach little everyday lessons. As one observes the trials between the two lovers and their sometimes third wheel, we do in fact learn the quirks and odd behaviours of these not quite happy people. I wish this had been made when I was hitting the dating scene. I could have spared myself some hard 'way to go dufus' lessons.
Rating: 7

Mood:

Not for everyone, this is above all things, an experiment in the awkward. Many of you may writhe in your seat or chuckle, thinking how you've been just like that in the early days of dating, and this constantly delivers the truth of awkward silence, dialogue, characters and awkward situations so well that you'd swear this is real life.
Rating: 9

Mood:

How slow can you go? Give up trying to figure this one out, because it's not a his side / her side type of tale... but it is. When I want my film to be Avant-Garde, I want it to know it's Avant-Garde, not this wishy washy almost-high-art that just looks like so much directionless vague-on-purpose masturbation. Next time make a movie for us, not for you.
Rating: 4

Awkwaaard (banana)
Awkwaaaard (banana)

Overall Rating: 70% (The Truth Is Somewhere In The Middle)
Aftertaste:

As with most unknown films recommended by people, I'm quite proud of the fact that I've had my horizons expanded by watching a film with a completely different narrative style than I'm accustomed to. As I began to watch, I was glad to be experiencing something rare for North American audiences, not to mention seeing a film that I've never even heard of before this 'Thon. Thanks Brian!

Overall Rating: 70% (The Truth Is Somewhere In The Middle)
Aftertaste:

I guess the sad and shocking news about this film would have to be that Eun-ju Lee took her own life by cutting her wrists and hanging herself. Apparently, deep depression and the anger of her family when it was discovered that she performed nude scenes in her last film - The Scarlet Letter - were the reasons. There's no business like societally-repressed show business.

This contribution is one of many being held by Brian over at Hell On Frisco Bay for the Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Blog-A-Thon.

Visit other film blog critics to see what they had to say about this Foreign - in more ways than one - film, from the portal!

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The question I have, squish is: are these divergent reactions the result of separate screenings, or a single, divisive one?


In all honesty, I was torn about the cinematography so much that I couldn't decide if the video quality distracted or if the beauty of the shots overcame it.  That's when the thought came that I should make a review in the theme that I walked away with: Neither stories are true in fact, but each has a grain of truth in its telling.

One viewing.


You quite cleverly (and generously) guise your discontent with this film in your bifurcated conceit.  Reminds me of the final scene of the two guys playing badminton.


Oh I wouldn't say I despised it.  My only real problems with the film was the pacing - which was intentional, and the video quality.  I liked watching these characters fumble awkwardly around each ther, in BOTH tellings :D


I would attribute the poor video quality to the DVD, as Hong shot the film on 35mm and it looked gorgeous to me (despite a few scratches in the print) up on the screen- at least as good an image as a Jim Jarmusch film.  

I actually happen to own two different DVDs of this film, but I don't plan to get rid of either.  One is region 1 (or 0) and the correct (widescreen) aspect ratio; it's this disc that I made screencaps from.  Unfortunately, the image looks very much like a low-budget video transfer.  Perhaps this is the version you watched too?  (it's the one avaialable at netflix and greencine, but I don't know about Canada). 

The other disc is a Korean disc (region 3?) that has gorgeous, almost filmic, blacks and greys, but unfortunately is cropped to full-screen and won't play on the computers I've tried it on. 


No way.  I saw pixelization, major major.  Wow.  That's really surpising.  Had that not been the case the whole review style would have been different I'm sure as the catalyst was the visuals. 

Wow damned if you do damned if you don't.  Thanks for that!  Hopefully people will get their technologies sorted out one day...

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