Even without a star-studded cast, a solid, gripping plot may be all some films need to find commercial success.
Such was the case for films “Luck-key” (2016), which sold 6.97 million tickets, and “Intimate Strangers” (2018), which sold 5.29 million tickets — commendable numbers especially considering their mid-scale budgets. Both were remakes of Japanese and Italian original films, where local creators made the necessary adjustments to turn them into Korean stories that would suit the tastes of local viewers.
Similarly to how these smaller films reeled in their audiences, twist after twist draws viewers in to the mystery thriller remake film “Confession,” which was released in local theaters on Oct. 26.
“It’s a well-made film full of thrills and twists. I loved the cast’s ensemble. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a film that could capture my undivided attention.”
“I was completely immersed in the story because the scenario of the original movie was so tightly knit.”
“It’s a mystery novel seen through moving pictures. The twists are interesting as well.”
Such were a few of the many reviews giving the film 10 out of 10 stars on Naver’s film rating section. Reviews elsewhere on social media claim that they “didn’t even have time to reach for popcorn” because they were so immersed in the film and its gripping narrative.
The original film revolves around a secret that is unveiled as an entrepreneur claims innocence to his lawyer in a hotel room.
Director Yoon Jong-seok, who debuted in 2009 with the film “Marine Boy,” wrote the script and directed “Confession,” adding settings familiar from within Korean society for the audience to better understand the motive behind the protagonists’ actions.
One such change is that the protagonist, portrayed by So Ji-sub, is not only a promising IT entrepreneur but also a son-in-law to a chaebol family. The entrepreneur claims that he was summoned to a hotel room by his mistress, portrayed by Nana, after she threatened to publicly expose their affair. After regaining consciousness after a mysterious attack, So finds his mistress has been murdered. Part of the urgency of proving his innocence to his lawyer is the man’s desire to avoid divorce, which is highly likely to affect his business.
Moviegoers also have trouble believing the man’s claims as, during the time of crisis, he often uses power play to achieve the results he wants.
The tables turn against him when his lawyer, portrayed by Kim Yoon-jin, proposes a new hypothesis about what had happened at the hotel room.
The overall take of the remake is similar to the original — the lawyer, from the first moment she meets her client, convinces him to tell the whole truth so that she could form an ironclad alibi which would free him from the murder case. What makes “Confession” unique, however, is the detailed explanations behind the motives, peeled off layer by layer, which have been altered to suit the local sentiments.
The Korean remake, however, removed the premise that the characters used physical disguises to hide their identities, considering the local audience’s distaste for improbable or unnatural settings.
At a recent online interview with the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, director Yoon emphasized that “the most evident distinction between the original and the remake is the depth of characters’ emotions,” which Yoon took great care in from the casting process.
So, whose entrepreneur is to project a reliable and decent image to the local public, was picked for his model image so that the audience could be fooled by his character’s claims. So’s entrepreneur is more sharp-witted than the character from the original film, ready to take action at a moment’s notice.
For the lawyer, Kim kept her cool-headedness to emphasize her character’s profession, and to up the impact of her twist near the end of the film.
Viewers have also praised Nana’s acting. When the two protagonists propose different truths, the intention, motive and the actions taken by Nana’s mistress change drastically, which the actor pulls off magnificently. The actors were said to have plenty of time for rehearsals, similar to a stage play, to synchronize their tones and styles.
It was also Yoon’s decision to change the main setting of the film from an apartment complex in the city to a secluded villa owned by the wife’s family, to dramatize the overall mood of the narrative in hopes that the audience would be able to focus more on the shifting dynamics between the characters set in the isolated scenery.
Criminal profiler Kwon Il-yong, who attended the panel discussion at a screening on Oct. 19 prior to the film’s release, complimented the portrayal of the characters’ changing psychology around the case.
“It closely resembled the analysis of criminal scenes I’ve experienced,” he noted. “When profilers decipher a case, they look at the scene branching out in multiple possibilities [and multiple suspects]. Then, one by one, they eliminate them and find evidence supporting the most probable scenario.”
BY NA WON-JEONG, LEE JAE-LIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]