A Matter of Interpretation

A Matter of Interpretation
Directed by Lee Kwang-kuk
Starring Yu Jun-sang, Shin Dong-mi, Kim Kang-hyun

From the LKFF’s ‘Emerging Directors’ strand comes Lee Kwang-kuks’ A Matter of Interpretation, a curious little movie about a detective who – separately and quite by coincidence – bumps into both sides of a recently separated couple and decides to help interpret their dreams. His conclusions bring with them new enlightenment, but also new confusion as to the paths they’ve taken in life and the choices they’ve made.

It’s an unusual premise, one that sets itself up rather promisingly with a good ear for meandering, lyrically surreal conversations and a charmingly off-kilter performance from Yu Jun-sang as the detective. An odd mix of different vibes – all good – come from its initial scenes; a hint of Charlie Kaufman in its psychoanalytical take on the social paralysis of urban isolation, a dash of Woody Allen in its funny, bickering dialogue…

Sadly it fails to capitalize on its early promise, settling into a lethargic pace of long, static conversations and quiet wanderings through back streets. It’s like all the pieces to say something interesting about the loneliness and the dejection of modern life are there, but it doesn’t know what to do with them. Its quirky dream sequences and rapid back-and-forth all tired out, it seems to spend too much of its remainder striving to look subtle through inaction, its attempts at slow-burning melancholy a bit of a pose.

Ultimately the pieces do come together in a satisfying form, but it feels a little bit too late; an opportunity lost. A Matter of Interpretation commits the sin of having nice ideas and a good cast but managing to just be boring with them, taking them all the places they need to go, but taking them there all too slowly.


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