BFI London Film Festival: Helpless

Previously best known for her docs on the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted in the Pacific War, Byun Youngjoo here adapts a celebrated mystery-thriller novel by Miyabe Miyuki and does it proud. Likeable young veterinarian Munho is driving his fiancée Seonyeong to meet his stern father when she abruptly disappears at a motorway rest stop. Munho later finds her apartment ransacked and feels sure she’s been kidnapped. The police are no help, so he persuades his ‘difficult’ cousin (a former cop who left the force under a cloud) to investigate. But the closer they get to the missing woman, the more elusive she becomes. They find themselves rethinking old deaths as possible murders, wading through financial scams, and, eventually, approaching some horrifying conclusions. Byun’s hard-edged feminism shines through the snaking plot: this is ultimately the story of a victimised woman. But it gets all the male stuff right too.

Screen on the Green – Oct 12, 2012 6:30 PM
VUE, Screen 7 – Oct 15, 2012 6:15 PM
Rich Mix, Screen 1 – Oct 19, 2012 6:30 PM

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