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Monday, May 12

3-Iron or how golf can break you

The definition of the world we live in is our constant need to feel attached to things. Possession has become not only the ultimate purpose of our existence but the force that drives our minds and actions. We are eager to own things that wrap us into a numbing state of comfort, and people meant to keep our vanity intact and boosted. So, where does this leave freedom? The freedom of choosing not to own, possess or have for yourself? And the absolute freedom of letting words die in the land of silence?

Directed by the extraordinary, Kim Ki-duk, 3-Iron teaches us to appreciate the silence behind the sound of the golf club. The freedom of the golf course is only a matter of perception for a truly free spirit can actually enjoy it no matter what. Yet, the movie is also about how love could be free  if deprived of any unnecessary words. Tae-suk, the hero of Kim Ki-duk's amazing film, is young, pretty and out of this world. He drives his motorcycle from place to place, hanging fliers on people's doors only to return at nightfall and enter the empty houses. He settles in, eats light dinners, watches TV, tends to their plants and does a little bit of housework in return for the favour of having shared their places. He is quiet, smiling and harmless, the only noise he makes is playing his favourite CD. On such an occasion, he meets an abused wife, Sun- hwa, whose light presence escapes his trained ears.When they lay eyes on each other, they connect beyond words in the rawness of their souls. He saves her from the arms of the possessive husband and together they embark on a mute journey that brings them even closer. However, reality checks in a brutal manner and the nameless lovers are separated. The battered wife has found strength in her silence, whereas Tae-suk learns that love helps you grow wings and become invisible.

Somehow breaking the pattern of abuse and violence from his previous movies, Kim Ki-duk has not given up completely on his desire to shock the audiences and pull them from the apathy growing around and within them. To most people, breaking in and taking advantage of other people and their possession is beyond comprehension, the same way as violence could be disturbing to the same softer crowd. Nevertheless, this is an honest movie about experiences that escape the average eye rendered in an expressive manner, with some special wild beauty. Kim Ki-duk is a man for whom words fail to describe the inner beauty of things and people that sometimes turn out to be powerful tools of revealing the softness of feelings, emotions or gestures. His characters are visual and their violent gestures or actions are but an excuse to convey a fleeting moment of kindness. Its manner of directing movies is meant to be very participatory as he wants to get his audiences involved in the story, by merely filling the blanks in dialogues or the way characters are drawn. Given the right medium and the perfect context, viewers can use their imagination to give contour to the development of the plot and the outcome of the story in the most artistic manner of deconstructing violence. Also, it is extremely interesting how the director chooses to redefine the familiar space by Tae-suk's ability to live in the shadow of the people around him. While in jail, after having been caught in a person's house, he learns to shape space to his own needs so as to be become invisible to the ordinary eyes. Every time he tricks the jailer's eyes, he is brutally beaten until he comes to master his body and its lightness. This is Kim Ki-duk's explanation of the ghosts living with us and around us in the most unexpected and peaceful way. His character returns to haunt in ghostlike manner all the familiar places where he and the woman he loves have spent time together and in doing so, he is given once again the opportunity to distill his newly-acquired skills.

And thus, love is reinvented and living with specters becomes a new reality where the two lovers can peacefully co-exist with the abusive husband. Having returned to the house that Sun-hwa painfully shares with her husband, he is felt by both of them, yet seen only by her. Embracing her husband only to kiss her lover over the husband's shoulder feels as light as their bodies on the scales that point to "0 kg". Is this the weight of ghosts or the imponderability of love? On the riveting sounds of North African singer, Natacha Atlas, Kim Ki-duk's answer fill the empty screen: It is hard to tell the world we live in is either a reality or a dream. Could we really shake off our desire to possess and simply redefine freedom, with no losers and winners?
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