Eighteen ★★★★

Lost count of the number of times this impressed me. The opening shot is stunning enough, and that cut to '3 months earlier...' even more so. But throughout, Jang Kun-Jae's uncommonly deft script and formal precision continued to move and disorient: a tossed off "They'll kill me" turns literal during a family meeting; a supposed last meeting between the lovers has Tae-hoon smoking and crying as Mi-jung sits, quietly asserting: "I'm going to continue to see you"; disorienting cuts and bathroom mirrors used for maximum impact during a beating; a routine delivery turned low-key motorcycle chase; and so on. Small detail that might have struck me as absurdist had it not been for personal experience: when Tae-hoon is told that Mi-jung has taken a trip to and from the Philippines (which is plausible given the noticeable, thought not sizable number of Koreans who traveled to the Philippines as I was growing up, often staying for short periods of time to learn English). Reserving more detailed comment for a second viewing, but this is the kind of film that both scares and excites me, since it's in danger of lapsing into obscurity, but also proof that there are endless troves of cinema to explore. In any case, an astonishing debut.