The Lovers and the Despot ★★★½

Solid telling of a fantastic story. Formally it's not that adventurous - though the integration of Shin's movies to illustrate keys points in the narrative is very artfully done - but that feels less like a failure of conviction than a desire to not get in the way of an incredible tale of love, betrayal, and Kim Jong-il.

It's most interesting when it touches on the relationship between Kim and his captives, and especially on Shin's seemingly mixed feelings about being kidnapped yet having access to more resources than he ever had in South Korea, but that makes up a frustratingly small section of the film. The dynamics at play in those moments could fuel an entire movie on their own.