Memories of Murder ★★★★½

"What did he look like?"

I adore the opening shot of this film. A young boy, crouching down among tall blades of grass, had his eye on a little grasshopper, before quickly snatching it up. He heard a tractor mowing along the road. He gets up, and we got a beautiful wide shot of the grass plains he's standing on, with the superb, gentle score fades in.

What does it all signify, though? I haven't a goddamn clue. All I know is; it's the moment I told myself that whatever this film is going to be or how it transpires along the way, I know I'm fully in. And what a bleak journey it came to be.

'Memories of Murder' operates in this weird, deep tinge of noir (it helps that I've been on a couple of film noir runs of my own), where the dark psychology of men being the driving force of each and every decision being made on-screen, and it doesn't always turn out to be good. Every false, miscalculated, misinformed, exaggerated information just gets snowballed into another undesired consequences. In the end, you could argue it's just another wild goose chase.

I sounded like I'm digressing over here because, really, there is absolutely no way to sums up one's experience upon the first-viewing of this crime masterpiece. That one, single line of dialogue uttered in perhaps the most harrowing final scene I've ever witnessed in a long, long time, that truly gutted me to pieces. No spoilers here, obviously, but the final 20 minutes just clicks everything in place for me. Sometimes in a crime procedural, it isn't really about the killers at all; but the men who hunts them. There's only so far a point of pure desperation that one man could take. I would've loved to talk more about the film's ending in as detailed as I possibly could, but I'm gonna need a proper time to gather my thoughts - and a rewatch to top it all off - before I could make out any coherent opinions of my own.

It's haunting, deeply disturbing, darkly comic in places, incredibly well-acted (the start of director Bong and muse Song Kang-Ho's beautiful partnership), beautifully-shot (refer to that opening shot I briefly talked about) and gorgeously-scored with its wistful, melancholic tunes - if you count yourself as a genuine fan of crime-mystery, you owe it to yourself to watch this. I'm utterly fanboy-ing over director Bong right now.

"Have you seen anything like this in Seoul before?"

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