|Starring:||Seo Young-hee, Ji Sung-won, and Park Jeong-hak|
The film takes a very interesting route by providing a lead who is far from the idealized human being. The movie opens Hae-won (Ji Sung-won), who is the main protagonist for the first half of the movie, essentially berating an elderly woman who asks for a loan. As if this weren’t enough to make the audience dislike the character, this is followed up by her allowing two murderers get away with their crime. Granted, in the film’s logic she can’t be convinced that they did it, but the argument against her actions are further solidified when she is actually physically threatened by these two punks. Furthermore, we then watch as she berates her colleague for helping out the previously mentioned elderly woman, and we are only ten minutes into this movie. When this character is forced to take a vacation, we see that this provides her a second chance with the audience. However, even after one hour into the movie, she still refuses to step forward and showcase any sort of sympathy or help to her fellow human beings. After such a long gestating period, this character almost seems impossible to save. While the character inevitably does have an arch to her and the growth of the character does in fact make sense, the movie becomes partially frustrating due to how utterly rude this leading protagonist usually is.
Unfortunately, I do feel that a slight amount of steam is lost when the film moves to its island location. Some of the twists that we run into during this section does come across as being slightly predictable. There is the local girl who pines for the big city, we have the city slicker who used to be one of these locals, and we watch as these two have their own very different problems. There are some interesting tidbits in here though, including some eroticism that seems almost out of place amongst the two female leads. There is a hint of eroticism during a scene where these two share a bath together, but the moment is soon over and the audience is left guessing at what this might have implied. Along with this small tease of sexuality, this section of the movie is also filled with a few very animalistic sex scenes that are surprisingly realistic and occasionally scary. The drastic change from the urban environment to this serene country landscape is quite strange, but both landscapes provide some very beautiful cinematography. If there is one thing that the film does well, it is in the visual side of the equation.
While the majority of the film does take place upon the island, this section of the movie does at times seem rather familiar. We have seen much of this material covered before. An abused wife living in a rural setting? Fried Green Tomatoes and maybe even Delores Claiborne. A wealthy person trying to fit in with common folk? The Mission, The Bird People From China, and several other notable films. There is very little that stands out from the earlier half of the island sequences. After the first fifteen minutes, the rest of the first hour seemed to drag for me. I began to wonder what the film might actually have of interest in store for me. The character of Hae-won is completely abandoned for a while once she finds her room on the island. Instead, we are shown what a hopeless and brutal place this island is for Bok-nam. This poor woman is beaten within an inch of her life quite often, and we see her husband’s family dominate her life before her child is finally taken from her. After this setup, the movie does find a very intriguing foothold and almost becomes an exploitation title. If nothing else, the last half hour of Bedevilled stands out as a resourceful and chilling thriller that rarely has a comfortable moment.