For his first selection at Cannes, Oh Seung-uk drew on the talents of one of Korea's finest actresses. Jeon Do-yeon, a member of last year's Feature Film Jury, heads the bill in Mu-Roe-Han (The Shameless), the story of a detective who falls in love with the wife of a criminal.
Film photo © RR
How did you get the idea for this film?
I wanted to write a film about a rough, tough character would have been a real heavyweight if he'd been born in the days of the American Wild West. These men are afraid of woman or feel guilty about them – a fact they try to hide. The Shameless started out from the hypothesis – what would happen if such a man, a coarse, lost sort of guy, came up against a desperate woman?
How did you work on the film? Any anecdotes to share from the shoot?
I can't remember anything in particular. I began building the story from the beginning of the screenplay and had more ideas during the initial scouting for locations with the chief decorator. That way of doing things certainly drove the tone and emotion of the film. The other part is down to the actors. They had to understand the plot and make it their own. Fortunately, Kim Nam-gil and Jeon Do-yeon delivered perfect performance. All I had to do was to congratulate them.
Can you tell us a little about your actors?
The main actress, Jeon Do-yeon (Kim Hye-kyung), had to stand up to the cold, no-good character, opposite her in every scene. I have in fact made violent films in the past in which there were only female characters. But in this film, the atmosphere is very masculine. Jeon unleashed her extraordinary talents.
Several people, who didn't really get the screenplay, complained that Jung Jae-gon, played by Kim Nam-gil, should have been stronger and more virile. However, our intention with Kim Nam-gil was to portray Jung Jae-gon above all as an empty, exhausted man. Kim paid no attention to the various comments – he gave us a delicate portrayal, just the sort of acting we needed for this film. Interestingly enough, he was suffering from a raging fever during the shooting of the final scene, as if he was being punished instead of his character for hurting an innocent woman.
Tell us about the cinema in your home country?
The film industry is now in the hands of the investors. There's not much more to say on the matter.
What artists have inspired you in your work?
I'm a big fan of Jean-Pierre Melville. I was inspired by his film Un flic, the story of a detective who attended the funerals of every dead criminal, with its exploration of the relationship between the detective (Alain Delon) and the wife of a criminal (Catherine Deneuve). The Third Man inspired me to separate the two characters. I was also influenced by complex hard men like John Wayne in The Searchers by John Ford, Wang Wu in The Assassin by Jang Chul, and Kim Jun-pyung in the novel Blood and Bones.
Are you working on a project right now?
I'm writing a screenplay about American soldiers fighting against criminals trying to steal petrol in Ascome City, where the biggest supply centre in Asia was located, two years after the Korean War.
Friday 15 May / Debussy Theatre / 10 pm
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