Jimseung ui kkut
South Korea, 2010, 114 min
Pregnant teenager Soon-young, leaving Seoul in the backseat of a taxi to give birth at her mother’s house, looks up to find the driver welcoming another passenger. The arrogant young man, without even turning to look at her, acts strangely and disconcertingly, revealing private details from the lives of both the driver and Soon-young. Even more disturbingly, he starts counting down to the precise moment when, he says, “the angels will descend”—a countdown that terminates in a blinding white flash. Soon-young regains consciousness in a motionless car with a dead cell phone and, against everybody’s advice, begins to wander through a mysterious new world. “Trouble starts the moment you leave the front door,” our heroine is warned, but she can’t help trying to make sense of what’s happened to the life she thought she knew. Behind her lie broken dreams represented by cigarette lighters and Louis Vuitton bags (gifts from the boyfriend who jilted her), while the path ahead she negotiates with dubious guides that include other lost wanderers like herself. Cinematic clues that you’re in one genre will steer you wrong time and again, as this gripping and deeply unsettling debut by newcomer Jo Sung-hee unwinds its small, personal tale of apocalypse with menace and dark humor.