A fascinating story told by an unreliable narrator, Won Shin-yun"s Memoir of a Murderer makes you wonder whose narrative you can trust. Spoilers for the ending ahead!
Kim Byeong-soo (played by Sol Kyung-gu) is a serial killer with dementia. Fresh murders are being committed in the city, and when Kim comes across Min Tae-joo (played by Kim Nam-gil), Kim recognizes him as another killer. After his daughter, Kim Eun-hee (played by Kpop star Kim Seol-hyun), begins to date Min, Kim must deal with his fading memories and separate truth from fiction as he tries to find out who committed the recent murders.
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This wouldn’t be in my top five of all time, but it’s definitely an interesting one with a few twists, a bit of humor, and good acting...for the most part.Sol Kyung-gu did a fantastic job portraying Kim Byeong-soo, while Kim Seol-hyun was decent at playing Kim Eun-hee.The cinematography was beautiful in some scenes and the film built up the suspense quite well.
Some parts that seemed a bit unnecessary include the drawn-out poetry lesson scenes and the scene where Min detaches a small section of his head. I thought the latter was unnecessary (laughable, even) and there just for shock value. (Edit: After reading a comment on this blog post though, I see this could be an interpretation implying that Min and Kim are the same person.) Min also didn"t have a good reason for being the antagonist; his explanation seemed very cliche and boring. He acted well in almost all the scenes, but his explanation scene could have been much more convincing.
I"ve read some reviews that call the film predictable and say that the ending was unsatisfactory and confusing. At the end, Kim Byeong-soo tells himself not to trust his memory, and that Min Tae-joo is still alive. The film kept me guessing and I have mixed feelings about the ending, but I like it for the most part. I do think the movie could have ended after the final fight scene when everyone was on the floor. However, I think the ending makes Kim Byeong-soo more of a tragic hero. My interpretation is that all the events really happened and that he successfully killed Min Tae-joo, but he cannot remember what happened and is doomed to live with unresolved pain for the rest of his time. Another popular theory is that it really was all in Kim’s head.
I talked to a friend recently who interpreted it differently and said that Kim Byeong-soo is already dead in the end (hence walking through the tunnel and seeing Min Tae-joo). I still like my tragic ending but this blew my mind haha.
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Ultimately I enjoyed the film and it"s something I"d watch a couple more times. I would rate this film 7/10! Have you seen this film? What did you think of it?
Hit me up if you have any more Korean revenge films that you"d recommend! This genre is quickly becoming one of my favorites.