Call it either borderline cinema or simply the movie that kept your wits about, it is utterly a matter of perception. The Weight is the movie that draws the clear line between comfortable film watchers and those living on the edge. To me, it was this new cinematic experience that baffled and intrigued at the same time, still, too challenging a film to pass. It has become way too warm and cosy to just enjoy our comfort area and feel things from a safe distance; The Weight is the movie that grabs you in the most elegant and saddest artistic manner possible because ugly truths cannot always be uttered softly or clad in impeccable clothing that feel decent to both the eye and the spirit. Yet, do not come unprepared to the feast.
Now that I have drawn you close to me, let me tell you a few unexpected things about this interesting movie. Butterflies, whores, hunchbacks, transgenders, dogs, dead bodies, industrious hands, are all of this world, a place corrupted by fake standards of beauty and acceptance. It is not the fictional world of director Jeon Kyu-hwan, it is simply the filth we so gladly push under the so-called impeccable carpet. There is life in the morgue, there is art and poetry inside the distorted body of a lonely mortician, there is more beauty and emotion in the woman inside the body of a tormented man than there is ugliness and meanness in the pretty face of a wicked stepmother. Come to think of it, the life of little, despicable bugs as they call themselves, is more intense than the shining, yet hollow, existence of the people living above the ground. Cho Jae Hyun plays Jung, a hunchback working at the morgue with much passion and dedication. He has a transgender brother and an insensitive mother, both of whom work as dressmakers. Jung is lonely, sensitive, dying of tuberculosis, thorough about his job, sad, a passionate painter, a great tailor, still life is meaningless to him. He loves the only people who have chosen not to love him- the brother who yearns to become a woman and the mother who never wanted him. Still, there is such acceptance and mute pain in his movements and his eyes speak more words than one could bear. When love fails him and all reasons to live on eventually fade away, he does the only thing that has any meaning to him: a beautiful red gown for the man/woman he loves. Death shall welcome them in their true colours and all affliction shall come to an end.
The Weight is not only about loneliness and lack of affection, it is also about how sex, deprived of any further motivation, becomes meaningless and saddening. It is also pleading for our long lost humanity and lack of compassion and our constant preoccupation with whatever complies with our standards of beauty and acceptance. We are much too focused on painting the world in black and white and on reflecting our own grey upon the others. People are killed, shot, or take their own lives in the movie, yet, The Weight is not dark in its core; it is more about life than about non-living. It is about the white butterflies, the waltzes, the paintings, the love that life contains than about the ugliness of it. All and each of us have his own burden to carry and the weight of life and death is something Jung has come not only to understand but also to embrace. Apart from the beauty that resides in its many layers, The Weight has great music and is beautifully painted. In all greyness, there are well-drawn spots of red, white, yellow or green that colour the repulsiveness of Jung's job or life. In such a world, the magpie gets depressed and flies as high as it can; and there, at the heart of the sky, it folds its wings. This is Jung's only way of dealing with the world and its gifts. In a different reality, he rides his bike through yellow fields of flowers, a soft breeze caressing his face and great opera music in his ears. Now, where are we exactly?