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Monday, October 8, 2012

BIFF 2012: Park Chul-soo's B·E·D (2012)


Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

A small and sensual chamber piece, Park Chul-soo’s new feature B·E·D (his 27th) brings to mind Green Chair (2005), his most significant work of the last decade. However, whereas that erotic film was a fascinating study of an unconventional relationship, Park’s new film can’t seem to move beyond its bedroom antics. Granted, as intimated by the title, a bed is the chief component of the film: It is the principal location and also serves as a heavy metaphor for a man’s lifelong obsession with sex, and, by extension, all men’s carnal fixation.

Based on a short story by Kwon Ji-ye of the same name, B·E·D features a man, presented to us as ‘B’, whose life ‘begins on the bed and ends on the bed’. He has an affair with married woman ‘E’ and later, after she breaks up with him, he marries ‘D’, a single mother and career woman.

Park’s film, like most of his efforts, employs a low-budget aesthetic. While this in itself does not necessarily constitute a problem, the loft setting and the white-beige color palette are not complemented by the film’s eroticism and frequent repetition. Though clearly an artistic endeavor, it’s difficult to get over the cheap, late-night TV erotica vibe of the picture.


The film’s attractive cast members have mainly worked on the stage and while convincing in their parts, they are not given much opportunity to prove themselves. Jang Hyeok-jin is forced to spend most of the narrative with a light expression of indecision etched on his face while Lee Min-a and Kim Na-mi, as his sexual partners, are stuck in stock stereotypical roles.

While central to the film’s purpose, the abundance of sex scenes, though titillating, ring hollow in the absence of a real emotional core. The act of lovemaking, when repeated countless times in a relationship, can become a routine act but when that feeling of prosaic familiarity spreads to the whole narrative as well as the film’s style, it begs one to question the purpose of the film. While not an awful feature, Parks’s B·E·D, with its simple presentation and repetitious nature, lacks substance and staying power.




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