Crime thriller delves into the fissures resentment leaves behind
Writer-director Park Myeong-rang observed his parents’ quarrels and reached the conclusion that much of our problems stem from self-righteousness and lack of understanding for others.
His debut feature “An Ethics Lesson” delves into the subject by featuring shady men who deny their roles in the death of a woman.
“I started writing a story for this movie after watching serious arguments between my parents. When I heard my mom’s arguments, her words sounded right. But when father started arguing, he seemed right,” said Park during a press conference prior to the release set for next Thursday.
“I wonder why it’s so hard to keep peace in a relationship. The four male characters were formed while thinking about this issue,” he said.
The crime thriller unravels as a charming female college student is murdered.
The people in the woman’s life come under scrutiny one after another as it is revealed how they are all connected to her.
The suspicious men epitomize different negative facets of human nature such as cruelty, cowardice and evil.
Jeong-hoon (Lee Je-hoon) is a policeman who lives next to the murdered woman.
He looks gentle and clean-cut but is obsessed with the neighbor. The policeman goes to extremes by eavesdropping on her, but defends himself by saying “I don’t hurt anyone.”
Another man involved in the case is Myung-rok (Cho Jin-woong), a loan shark. He pretends to be a good-natured neighbor but brutally confronts her after lending her his money.
Ex-boyfriend Hyun-soo (Kim Tae-hoon) turns into a stalker after they break up. He expresses his love in an unpleasant manner and has trouble accepting that they’re no longer together.
Professor Soo-taek (Kwak Do-won) has an affair with her. He says he truly loves her and argues their relationship was formed with the girl’s consent. But he is constantly terrified his wife will find out about the relationship.
Soo-taek’s wife (Moon So-ri) becomes part of the story after learning of her husband’s affair. Despite her husband’s extramarital affair, she tries to keep her composure.
As the investigation intensifies, the four start expressing their true nature, and this is what the director is keen on portraying throughout the scenes.
Asked about the characters of the wire-tapping man and the jealous ex-boyfriend, Park said “The characters were developed with the idea that the conflicts were caused by each individual’s lingering resentment.”
The title of his film also reflects his train of thought.
“The world seems to be full of anger and conflict, as we can see in what happens in Iran and Israel. We don’t need to go as far as the Middle East. The screams in our neighborhoods speak for themselves, ” Park said.
“Having said that, I started wondering why we should fight to the end of our lives. All these conflicts seem to boil down to one’s own resentment and that resentment overshadows our ethics,” he said.
The script was finished seven years ago, but filming was delayed due to financial reasons.
In the face of the challenge, cast and staff members are said to receive a limited guarantee on the returns for the film.
Actress Moon said she took the risk because she trusted the director’s script.
“I heard a new director wrote a really interesting scenario, but was having trouble getting it made into a movie. As soon as I read the script, I had a different feeling that I’ve never had before. It was really unique and creative.”
“I tried to reach out to people in the business that I know and they also liked the story,” Moon said.
As the movie revolves around the villains, the actors took different approaches in becoming bad men.
“Myung-rok implicitly uses people’s weaknesses to his advantage. All human beings have their own weaknesses no matter how rich or smart they are. He recognizes this and takes advantage of it in a very delicate manner,” said Cho Jin-woong, who played the role.
“An Ethics Lesson” marks Park’s first feature but his short “I’m Sorry”(2002) was acclaimed by critics and screened in various domestic film festivals including the Jeonju International Film Festival and the Independent Film & Video Makers’ Forum.
By Park Eun-jee [firstname.lastname@example.org]