Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder ★★★★½

Criterion Collection Spine #1073
(Foreign language film - Korean)

A series of crimes become so tragically inevitable that they demand immediate justice, but a team of Korean detectives come to learn you can't force the truth no matter how bad you want it.

"What kind of detective sleeps well?"

I once heard Memories of Murder described as the Korean version of David Fincher's 'Zodiac', and that comparison is pretty much spot on. But maybe that should be reversed since Memories of Murder came out a couple of years earlier. This mystery crime thriller follows a police department in a small Korean factory town, who is struggling to find the right person responsible for a series of murders where the attractive female victims are found tied up, gagged, and raped in or around a tall field of grass. Director Bong Joon Ho does a brilliant job of applying so much tragedy, tension, personality, and even humor into this mystery that had me holding my breath hoping they would finally get that break in the case.

(Quick Hits) ... Mild Spoilers:

- Early on we get a sense of how long this brash team of detectives have been working this case, based on the huge book of suspects they have already compiled. It has gotten to the point where they are torturing the suspects and trying to coax them into making a confession. And word of this has gotten around, and given the department a reputation for police brutality, which is ironic because of how enduring and sometimes silly these detectives are

- Then a fresh detective from the city is brought in and pieces together a couple of factors that all the murders have in common. But by the end, even he reaches his breaking point when it comes to the frustration involved in not being able to line up every detail, inorder to convict their seemingly perfect suspect

- The excellent shot composition stood out to me during a few moments including the sea of tall grass which they continuously comb through throughout their investigation, and also the train tunnel towards the end

- The film is bookended by a drain on the side of the road where the first victim we see has been left. Thinking about it more this short tunnel was a clever way of showing how deceptively simple the case appears to be. Then in the end our main character even learns the person likely responsible was also seen revisiting this spot, and is simply described as looking ordinary despite how proficient they are at being a serial killer

- For me, the most powerful scene is when we know another murder is coming, and we see how big of a factor fate really is in all of this as we see a character we care about become a possible target for this mysterious rapist-murderer

- Talk about a red herring when it comes to that red underwear 😉

- From what I recall the film tells us this was based on an unsolved series of murders upfront, but throughout it makes it look like the truth is so close. But that often ends up making way for something to fall through in the case, while also uncovering a new lead

- You know a film has you when you see one of the main characters do something stupid, and you catch yourself actually saying "no" out loud, because you think they might do something to accidentally mess up the case

I have tried to remain vague while talking about Memories of Murder to hopefully not spoil this captivating and twisty experience for those curious to check it out. If you are a fan of mystery crime thrillers, this one is a must!

Thanks for reading.
Happy movie watching ... Cheers!

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