Film Review: A Petal (KKotib)

   A Petal is a pretty difficult film to stomach - it's subject matter, the Gwangju Massacre, is one of the most violent and shameful incidents in Korean history and, to compound the issue, director Jang Sun-woo blends documentary footage of the atrocity with a bleak and graphic narrative focusing on the mistreatment of a survivor. Rather than recreate the historical slaughter in a straightforward manner, Jang's film focuses on the fall-out from the event, the lingering suffering and how pain inflicted in the past can infiltrate the present - as a film-maker he uses rape as a metaphor repeatedly, distastefully and stomach-churningly too. There's poetry to be found in many of the feature's aesthetic compositions, ominous slow motion begets real and powerful tension, and its admirable that Jang looks for stylistic ways to represent events so sickening they're almost impossible to comprehend. Yet, one can't help wonder if there's better, more lyrical ways to represent the suffering of a nation than repeatedly inflicting sexual violence upon a metonymic female synecdoche.

   Not widely available, A Petal is a difficult film to find and an even harder one to watch.
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