I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK (15)



Drama (2006)
107mins S Korea

Starring: Lim Su-jeong, Jeong Ji-hun, Choi Heui-jin, Lee Yeong-mi
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writer(s): Jeong Seo-gyeong, Park Chan-wook
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Factory worker Yeung-gun believes she is an electricity hungry cyborg and refuses to eat, preferring to plug herself into the mains and almost electrocuting herself in the process. Referred to an asylum under the care of Choi Seul-gi, Yeung-gun fits in perfectly with the rest of the misfits and oddballs, not least soul thief Il-Sun. He strikes up a friendship with the newcomer, gate-crashing her dreams in order to get Yeung-gun eating again and shepherd her gently back to the land of the living.

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LondonNet Film Review
I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK

A young girl, Young-goon Cha, raised by a grandmother who thinks she's a mouse and eats nothing but radishes, cuts open a vein at the insistence of a voice she hears coming from a radio...

She tapes wires into her fissured wrist. She plugs the cord into the wall and the resulting surge blasts her backwards. She is lying on the floor of the factory in which she works, twitching, bleeding sickly black, when her toenails light up, from little to big, in a candy-color rainbow. The illumination is a fantasy, just like the voice from the radio. She thinks she's a cyborg.

So begins Chan-wook Park's latest, I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK. He calls it a romantic comedy and a diversion from his previous work (The Vengeance Trilogy), which has all been driven by hatred instead of love like this one. But "romantic comedy" doesn't work as a label here, because through hundreds of repetitious exercises in the genre starring attractive young people in harmless duels of attraction, we've come to expect something from a romantic comedy that we absolutely won't find here.

Young-goon is put in an asylum with a circus fun-house collection of mental outliers wandering unimpeded among each other. She meets Il-soon Park, a young man who believes he will someday vanish into a dot and also that he possesses the ability to steal anything from a person - emotions and characteristics included. The early fluttering of attraction, usually a circumstantial encounter or an exceptional night, comes instead when Park steals away Young-goon's capacity for sympathy so that she might take revenge on the white-coated doctors for taking her grandmother. She kills them all, in her head, with bullets raining from her robot fingers with icy precision. Love blossoms between the two broken psyches.

It's warmer than that. Chan-wook Park has a wonderful ability to convey sincere emotions, love included. And while he manages to build something real between his main characters, there's always going to be a block for audiences. We are not, as a society, of the opinion that the severely insane can find love before first finding sanity. This is especially problematic for us when sex becomes involved, which it does. Do these people understand what they are doing?

I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK, comes from a director trying to make something for fun. But he fails because he isn't capable of making false or harmless characters. These people aren't goofy but tragic, and the resultant film isn't pretty but beautiful. Some failure.

- Kiernan Maletsky

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