Sweet, pretty and slightly murderous
Halfway through the film “My Scary Girl,” there’s an interesting round of dialogue between the main characters.
Dae-woo (Park Yong-woo), a timid university lecturer, comes down hard on his sweet murdering girlfriend Mi-na (played by Choi Gang-hee) to tell the truth about who she really is. Mi-na replies, “I’m no different from that girl over there,” and points to an ordinary-looking woman across for her table in a restaurant; the woman is sweetly wanly at her date.
Perhaps she has the right to be seen as an ordinary woman, at least to the man she loves.
The film, which was released under the Korean title “Sweet Bloody Lover,” is a black comedy that explores the secrets behind every potential lover’s sweetness, and how absurdly people can forget those flaws once their eyes are blinded by love.
The heroine is an ordinary-looking woman who also happens to be a murderer. Yet even without the extreme metaphor, it’s evident that the director, Son Jae-gon, was trying to portray the moment of fear people have when they face the truth about their partners.
As the story begins, Dae-woo injures his back helping an old delivery man into an elevator as he tries to carry a refrigerator to Mi-na’s suite. A foreshadowing of the problems he’s going to have with Mi-na, his back pain occasionally recurs throughout the film when he feels lonely.
Mina says she is an artist who plans to go to Italy to study design. She talks nonsense about how a person’s future depends on books, but she hasn’t even heard of Dostoevsky. Yet later, she quotes the Russian writer of “Crime and Punishment” in order to justify the murder of an old man she killed to get his inheritance.
But “My Scary Girl” is at its heart a comedy.
In bed, Mi-na hesitates and backs away, saying she hasn’t showered. Dae-woo’s replies, “That’s okay. I have low blood pressures. I can handle salt.”
After Mina goes to Italy, Dae-woo says in a voice-over: “Some men are reminded of their lovers when they hear love songs they used to listen to together. Me? I reminisce of our days together when I see dead bodies that were found on mountains shown on the news.”
They might not translate well, but the jokes work in Korean. It helps that Korea has never had much in the “romantic thriller” department, giving the film a sharp edge.
Mi-na’s character, despite her quirky side, is undoubtedly charming. She’s one of the most charming female killers, sometimes lying, sometimes sticking to the inconvenient truth.
She says what she feels; she adamantly objects when her date, trying to be nice, says he had a great time. She never loses her lively spirit after all.
Years later the couple runs into each other in Singapore by coincidence near the end.
When he asks her how she had been, she answers in a cheerful note, as if she had never killed anyone, “Good. They were right. You become a patriot when you leave home.”
by Park Soo-mee