- FILM & PEOPLE
- K-Cinema Library
Jan 02, 2019
- Writerby Pierce Conran
2013｜100 MIN｜Animation, Thriller
DIRECTOR YEON Sang-ho
CAST OH Jung-se, YANG Ik-june, KWON Hae-hyo, PARK Hee-bon
RELEASE DATE November 21, 2013
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Before conquering the world with his hit horror-thriller TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016), which became the most successful Korean film of all time at the international box office with well over USD 100 mil-lion in global sales, director YEON Sang-ho had already blazed a trail on the world’s festival circuit with a pair of uncompromising and powerful indie animations. After establishing his reputation with The King of Pigs (2011), which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, YEON took an even deeper and darker dive into the human condition with The Fake, which debuted in the Vanguard section of the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013.
A small countryside village is about to be submerged to make way for a new dam. Its villagers, who have been compensated for the relocation, are conned by Choi, a swindler who lures them in with a fake religion, which promises them all a spot in the afterlife, so long as they make hefty donations to the church. Choi uses the beloved Reverend Sung to hoodwink the congregation, while Min-chul, a local drunken good-for-nothing who terrorizes his family and all who cross his path, recognizes Choi from a wanted poster, but no one will believe him. While Choi prepares his exit strategy, Min-chul tries to track him down, and Sung begins to realize that he may not in fact be carrying out the Lord’s work.
Following his strong debut, YEON tackles a more ambitious set of dark social themes, exploring an impoverished community filled with credulous characters. With a few cretins and conmen added to the mix, it doesn’t take much to push the whole society to the brink of death and despair. YEON’s worldview offers no hope for its protagonists and little in the way of respite for its audience, but despite the darkness of the tone and the abundance of themes, The Fake weaves all its elements into an evenly-paced and engaging narrative. What’s more, looking at the staging of his action, it is easy to see in retrospect how someone like YEON could so easily make the jump to big-budget filmmaking.
With its clear style and focused themes, The Fake quickly won over festival viewers and found itself invited to dozens of international film events. Among its prizes were the Best Animation Award from the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia and the Best Director Award back home at the Wildflower Film Awards Korea.