I watched two movies on consecutive days. The first was the Korean movie "Old Boy" and the next was "Scent of a woman". Even though I am sufficiently fond of Al Pacino's style of acting, I think "Scent of a woman" sucked. Here was a story that bordered on the unbelievable as regards to the almost super-human charm of an almost blind man, and all the while every viewer could've told where the story was going. The acting was hammed, the lines were cliched and on any other day this mass produced piece of Hollywood pseudo-sentiments would leave me cursing. But not yesterday.
Yes, I know that "Old Boy" won the Jury Grand Prix at Cannes and all that. Without spoiling the suspense of the storyline, let's just say that the climax is very very disturbing. I am a firm proponent of artistic freedom and the need to express stories that tread beyond the norm. However this one shook me to the core or maybe even sickened me. The ultimate topic being broached in the movie is a very natural possibility yet our society has so conditioned us that we are nauseated even at its thought. Why should in these rare cases, even true love fall under the bracket of sin just because convention says so?
"Old Boy" takes the viewer where he wouldn't dare to venture alone. Maybe therein lies its greatness as a film. It is crisply & beautifully shot, edited down to the final "d" and brutal in its message delivery. There is so much to talk about and fictionalize about in our complicated existence but to go to the places that this movie has gone takes a rare kind of courage and morbid curiosity. Using the imagination to probe the dark corners of the mind may be the big draw for some artists but it's downright scary for me to watch the results. So watching a movie like "Scent of a woman" full of corny, romantic lines and a very very typical climactic 'courtroom' speech, made me feel normal again and I was glad for it. I was back in the conventional world where love and honour meant what we were taught when we were immature; simplified concepts of black and white that were within our limited emotional grasp. Our thoughts would like to take us to a whole lot of nooks and crannies but I think its not always such a great idea to hitch a ride with them.