Preview It is difficult from a North American point of view to get a perspective on just how radical Lies is in its country of origin, South Korea, which is socially very conservative. Jang Jung Il, the author of the novel on which the film is based, was found guilty of pornography and served two months' prison time for writing the book, an unlikely result were the location the United States, where public condemnation of sexually explicit prose comes almost exclusively from the religious right and such work is seldom, if ever, prosecuted.
Censorship of films in the U.S. is a more subtle, though very real, problem--more a matter of pulpit-bullying and ratings pressures than law. Lies has found an American distributor, but you can be sure it will not be shown in suburban muliplexes.
By any standard, Lies breaks new ground. It is centered in a passionate and consuming love affair between J, a married 38-year-old sculptor, and Y, an 18-year-old college student. (The difference in their ages is commented upon briefly, but not otherwise addressed.) Y comes to their first tryst a virgin, but this is no seduction--she is determined to lose her virginity with a man of her choice, since both of her sisters experienced their first sex as victims of rape.
The sex is heated, energetic, and uninhibited. In their first meeting, J and Y engage in oral sex and both vaginal and anal intercourse. In subsequent assignations their activities progress from light to ever more intense whippings and even an episode of coprophilia. But director Jang Sun Woo is not indulging in pornography here; there isn't the slightest tone of prurience on screen. While there are shots of frontal nudity of both partners, Jang is remarkably discreet, allowing only the most fleeting glimpses of genitals. There are no "clinical" shots, as they are called in the pornography trade.
What Jang does show is the mesmerizing power of the passion in which this couple are enmeshed. They are obsessed with each other and with their sex to the exclusion of everything else; their meetings are marathons of vigorous physicality. J acknowledges, as the affair progresses, that he is "not working much lately." Y quits college as they spend more and more time in their motel room assignations. Perhaps there's something to be said for sublimation, after all.
Jang also sustains a nonjudgmental stance in portraying the affair, which forces the viewer to examine his/her own responses. While many may find some of the sex portrayed to be distasteful, that is a highly subjective and personal reaction. Jang is not interested in approval or disapproval of particular activities, but rather in the totality of this relationship. The borders between pleasure and pain are indistinct, changeable. He makes clear that the mutual obsession is fraught with a level of neediness, suggesting, for J at least, that it cannot be satisfied. In that there is a profound sadness.
Jang doesn't get trapped into representing the relationship as a purely sexual one; that would have been an oversimplification. They each tell the other, "I love you," -- particularly when the whips start to crackle across flesh. There is also affection here, and tenderness. (A scene of Y gently dressing J's bruises after a whipping evokes a similar scene in Girl on the Bridge, but Leconte's couple have sublimated their sexuality into a knife-throwing act.) And J asks Y to marry him; he would divorce his wife. "If you divorce, I'll leave you!" is Y's heated response.
The two leads in Lies are not professional actors, but their performances, sexually and otherwise, are convincing. Jang uses hand-held cameras, fast motion sequences, and both low angle and extreme close-up shots to effectively convey both the energy of the physical activity and the cramped, almost claustrophobic containment of the rooms where the couple meet. Only the techno soundtrack is jarring and undoes a degree of the effectiveness of this skilled filmmaking.
Jang does break new ground with Lies; no film meant for general distribution has portrayed until now the activities that are here integrated into a thoughtful and complex examination of the byways of human emotion and sexuality.
Based on Chang Jeong-il's novel "Tell me a lie"
Y, an 18 year-old virgin in her last year of high school, begins a passionate and sado-masochistic affair with J, a 38 year-old sculptor living in Seoul. Y lies to her parents and takes the train to meet J in An -Dong, One of the most conservative cities in Korea with its strong tradition of Confucianism. During the first meeting, Y surrenders her virginity to J. Their sexual relation intensifies along with the sadistic acts that are accompanied. Y submits to J's whip and demands with surprising enthusiasm and considerable fortitude. Subsequently whippings and beatings become the peak of foreplay. After a three-month trip to Paris, J reunites with Y, now a college student majoring in Statistics. With Y legally an adult now, there is nothing to stop the two. At this point, their role during sexual foreplay changes as it is now J who starts asking Y to whip him. Meanwhile, Y's brother sets fire to J's home after learning about their affair. Y responds by leaving the family and dropping out of college. J and Y become sexual vagrants, traveling from motel to motel and living on credit cards and borrowed cash. Their life heads for complete hedonism and abandonment of material trappings.
ภาพยนตร์ที่อื้อฉาวที่สุดแห่งปีของผู้กำกับ จัง ซุนวู ซึ่งมีเนื้อหาว่าด้วยความสัมพันธ์สวาทระหว่างนักประติมากรวัยกลางคนกับเด็กสาววัย 18 ปี เนื้อหาเต็มไปด้วยฉากเซ็กซ์ที่โจ่งแจ้ง แต่ก็ทำให้หนังเรื่องนี้ได้รับเชิญให้เข้าร่วมในสายประกวดของเทศกาลภาพยนตร์เวนิส .. แต่ผลของการพิจารณาให้หนังเรื่องนี้เข้าฉายตามโรงภาพยนตร์ได้ก็ต้องมีการยื้ดเยื้อมานานกว่า 6 เดือน ….