Archives / 2005 Sundance Film Festival

Old Boy

Director: Park Chan-wook

Screenwriters: Park Chan-wook, Hwang Jo-yun, Lim Joon-hyung, Garon Tsuchiya

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival

Description

Without explanation, a businessman suddenly finds himself imprisoned in a dingy hotel room. Confined there for 15 nightmarish years, he is drugged, endures fits of madness, and remains none the wiser as to the identity of his captors. Then, as quickly as he was nabbed, Oh Dae-su is released—full of vengeance and in dire need of a haircut. With the help of a friendly waitress, he tries to discover who locked him up, and why.

Revenge dramas are fashionable of late, but Park Chan-wook's brilliantly warped mystery is special. As classic a tragedy as Sophocles, as wildly inventive a thriller as Hitchcock, Old Boy isn't simply trying to be clever. The joy of the film is that once you fit the pieces of the puzzle together, you wind up with a fascinating picture. A former philosophy student, Park offers a richly conceived exploration of vengeance and love, marked by intelligence and inescapable emotion. Choi Min-sik gives a mesmerizing performance; at first awash in loss and anger, his pitiful self-awareness is ultimately crushing. And to watch Choi—his inscrutable smile or helpless weeping, his face adorned with emotions so raw and immediate—is a pure revelation.

Visually ingenious, full of fanciful hallucinations, creepy ants, and brutal but visionary uses for household hammers, Old Boy will leave you with half a mind to walk right back in for the next show.

— John Nein

Screening Details

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