starring Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun
screenplay by Oh Jung-mi & Lee Chang-dong, based on the short story "Barn Burning" by Haruki Murakami
directed by Lee Chang-dong
by Walter Chaw When she was seven, she fell into a dry well and spent a day there, crying up into the round sky until he found her. She's Haemi (Jong-seo Jun), maybe 20 now, working as a live model with a bare midriff, standing on a busy street, dancing next to a prize-wheel and giving out "tacky" things to, predominantly, men buying raffle tickets from the pretty girl. He is Jongsu (Ah-in Yoo), of the perpetually slack expression. He doesn't remember the well, nor rescuing her from it, nor the day he stopped her in the street on the way home from junior high to tell her she was ugly. "It's the only thing you ever said to me," she remembers. "I had plastic surgery. Pretty, right?" she asks him, but it's rhetorical. They fuck in an awkward, desultory way, with him looking at how the sunlight bounces off a tower in downtown Seoul, into her tiny apartment. (She's told him he'd be lucky to see it.) He goes back there to feed her cat while she's in Africa, and masturbates absently to the afterimage of her picture as he stares out the window. When she returns from her trip, it's on the arm of sexy, urbane Ben (Stephen Yeun). Ben likes Haemi because she cries--he doesn't--and can fall asleep whenever and wherever. He enjoys her guilelessness. "What's a metaphor?" Haemi asks Ben. Ben smiles in his empty way and tells her to ask Jongsu. Jongsu is, after all, an aspiring writer. "[Ben]'s the Great Gatsby," Jongsu tells Haemi--young, wealthy, and mysterious. Jay Gatsby is a metaphor. Jongsu says that Korea is full of Gatsbys.