The Korea Herald


[Herald Review] ‘Cobweb’ sends fresh, new breeze through Korean cinema scene

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Sept. 25, 2023 - 14:38

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“Cobweb” (Barunson EA) “Cobweb” (Barunson EA)

Hit filmmaker Kim Jee-woon has returned with black comedy “Cobweb,” joining forces with Cannes-winning actor Song Kang-ho to bring a breath of fresh air to the box office where plot-missing disaster flicks and childish romantic comedy films have been dominating recently.

“Cobweb” follows a fresh plot development, storyline and characters. The weighty question “What is film?” penetrates the 130-minute running time, anchoring the scenes of witty, funny and sad mishaps that happen on set.

Set in the 1970s, “Cobweb” revolves around Kim Yeol (Song), an obsessive filmmaker who decides to change the ending of his film “Cobweb,” but has to rally a crew of picky, uncooperative actors. Yim Soo-jung, Oh Jeong-se and Jung Soo-jung star as actors of the movie, whereas Jeon Yeo-bin plays Mi-do, the only person on set who supports the director.

The highlight of the movie occurs when director Kim Yeol stays firm in his conviction regarding the new ending. The actors' complaints about having to shoot the newly added scenes and also the Culture Ministry’s censorship of the movie’s plot only make Kim Yeol more obsessive about making the changes. The dramatic characterization and sudden change to the protagonist worry the actors, but Kim Yeol’s extreme and bizarre attitude doesn’t change, evoking laughter among the audience.

After bringing the entire cast back to the set, Kim Yeol begins shooting again with only two full-days allowed for the filming.

Sketch comedy moments unfold, such as Yu-rim (Jung Soo-jung) making a fuss about having to go back to a separate drama shoot immediately and Ho-se (Oh Jeong-se) getting anxious about revealing his secret relationship with Yu-rim.

Meanwhile, Mi-do (Jeon Yeo-bin) greets unexpected visitors on set. She and director Kim Yeol team up to prevent actors leaving with extreme measures -- they cut the telephone line, shut down the studio, get an actor and a Cultural Ministry officer drunk, tie their hands and legs and lock them up inside an empty room at the studio.

Despite director Kim Jee-woon’s clever use of '70s mise-en-scene to depict a filmmaker’s agony in a genteel way, the film seems a bit outside of the box to appeal to a mass audience.

The frame of the narrative -- director Kim Jee-woon’s “Cobweb” showing director Kim Yeol’s “Cobweb” -- may be slightly confusing. This leaves the question: Will the film go down easy with the many moviegoers who visit the cinema over the upcoming Chuseok holiday? Or will it leave them feeling stuck in a tangled web?

“Cobweb” opens in theaters on Sept. 27.