Sympathy for Lady Vengeance ★★★★

''Listen carefully. Everyone make mistakes. But if you committed a sin, you have to make an atonement for that sin. Atonement, do you know what that means? Big Atonement for big sins. Small Atonement for small sins.''

Boy was I hoping that time and the absence of the weight of expectation would allow me to get more of a buzz from Chan-wook Park's follow up to his stunning Oldboy. I still feel very much the same many years later in revisiting this; that despite it stunning visual and aural aesthetic, it lacks a certain something that made his previous film so seductive and resonant. The moral grey areas are perhaps a bit of a vacuum when all is said and done, and despite his best intentions to explore revenge from the female perspective, there is an emptiness that exists beyond what should naturally make up a tale of revenge. The 'fade to black & white' cut is the one I have seen on both occasions; as is the director's intention, and it is an interesting exercise to visually display the grey zones that the film dives into in its final act, yet the catharsis feels somewhat hollow, and intentionally or not, it somehow doesn't quite satisfy. All this is aside though, this is Park injecting his pulpy, blackly comic vision of retribution on celluloid that whilst messy, is a beautiful mess nonetheless and I can't bear to rate it any less.

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