Memories of Murder

A few days ago I watched a South Korean serial killer movie called Memories of Murder. It was reminiscent of the recent American film Zodiac in that it was not glamorous or clear--no taunting, no profiling, just a painful mystery, as one woman after another is killed.

It's set in rural Korean in the mid-80s. It starts with a couple of local cops, provincials more used to rousting drunks and beating up political protestors than with investigating a serious crime. Evidence is trashed, and suspects are picked up because of rumors and gossip.

And these guys are thugs, though its just regular. There is one vivid scene where, after beating a poor mentally handicapped suspect up repeatedly, they sit with him and watch a popular Korean detective show.

A big city cop shows up--and shows them that the murder they are looking at is only one of a series. The movie is excellent on the dailiness of it all. The local cop really does want to solve this crime--he works hard to collect histories and pictures of anyone possibly connected--but he just doesn't know how to go about it.

The background is cement factories, long dirt roads, small restaurants with TVs, a rural school. I particularly liked the dailiness. It's rare to feel that the detectives are part of the world they are investigating.

It gets a good rating from me:  much character stuff worth emulating here.