Review: Beasts Clawing At Straws

Title: Beasts Clawing At Straws
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Kim Yong-hoon
Starring: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Woo-sung, Bae Sung-woo
Runtime: 1 hr 48 mins

What It Is: A man desperate to catch a break in life while he works a dead-end job, deals with an arrogant boss and cares for his sick mom, finds a bag full of cash with seemingly no strings attached. But the bag has an owner and there are several more who want to get their hands on it, from cold-hearted gangsters to a customs officer who’s in debt to them. With so many invested in finding the bag at any cost, there’s bound to be a trail of bodies and a web of lies left behind.

What We Think: Twenty minutes into this movie, I was scared that I was getting in over my head with a growing list of characters whose names I couldn’t remember and an even longer list of plot questions. Boy am I glad I didn’t let the intimidation I felt ruin my experience. The confusion I felt early on was definitely warranted but it made the climax and resolution all that more entertaining. The ensemble cast was superb in every way, the numerous storylines each evolved and came together into somewhat of a masterpiece and there was no shortage of surprises. I could go on and on as the soundtrack set the perfect tone, the cinematography was compelling and the pacing was expertly done. As the director’s first feature film, I am left with my jaw unhinged and my eyes wide as I ask myself, “How in the world is this marvelous feat a directorial debut?” I’m repeating myself at this point, but there’s nothing I can pinpoint that really took away from my viewing experience. The beginning is cluttered, as dictated by the complexity of the plot, but I was intrigued from beginning to end and, let me tell you, that ending is a whirlwind that left me perfectly satisfied. I applaud everyone involved with this film.       

Our Grade: A, I went into this movie not knowing what to expect at all but being met with a film that is a serious contender for my film of the year was certainly not anywhere near what I was even hoping for. I’m truly left reeling as I process the entire movie as a whole and anticipate that I will watch it again and again and again. I’ll mention that I’m not one to regularly watch foreign films but this film leaves me wanting more Korean cinema. Watch this movie. It’ll be one of the best you watch all year.   

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Cal Gessner Written by: