Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: A Werewolf Boy

We’ll take this warmly directed, deeply affecting supernatural romance over the entire synthetic Twilight series any day.

Nov 29, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1368438-Werewolf_Boy_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Suni Kim (Li Young-lan), an aged Korean woman living in America who has returned to her homeland, recounts the tale of A Werewolf Boy in flashback. As a sickly girl (played by young Park Bo-young) 47 years earlier, she was brought to a country house by her widowed mother (Jang Young-nam), along with her little sister and brother. Their quiet existence was shattered by the sudden appearance of a wildly animalistic stray boy (Song Joong-ki), whom the family took in and named Cheol-su.

Cheol-su is initially impossible, behaving more like a beast than a boy, but Suni takes him in hand and trains him into civility, using a dog manual. Cheol-su becomes devoted to the girl, and this arouses the jealously of Suni’s arrogantly obnoxious landlord Tae-sik (Yoo Yeon-seok, repulsively gotten up), who lusts after her. Cheol-su has already displayed superhuman strength and speed just playing childhood games with Suni, but whenever she is threatened, the real beast in him seems to come out.

This sure ain’t your grandpa’s werewolf movie! Writer-director Jo Sung-hee has crafted a highly watchable and affecting, genre-crossing work that emphasizes human emotion and interaction over horror. The early scenes with Cheol-su meeting Suni’s family and bonding with them are more Truffaut-Wild Child than Hammer Studio and often quite lovely. As he and Suni grow closer, their relationship has a romantic innocence, especially when she sings a glowing little song she composes for him. Their ravishingly photographed pastoral idyll is interrupted, of course, by hostile outside forces, headed by Tae-sik, which bring up the violence. It’s singular that in this age of so-called digital marvels, Cheol-su’s transformational werewolf moments are the weakest in the film, a rather cheap-looking matter of a shoddily furry mask and claws and rote camera effects which reek of B-movie budgetary constraints.

Hard-core horror lovers may be disappointed, but the film’s intelligent tact, human empathy and meltingly romantic approach are a more than fair tradeoff. Park and Song share a delicately profound chemistry and are the prettiest pair imaginable, with the boy in particular cleaning up well and resembling nothing so much as a real-life anime hero. The other children are radiantly adorable and Jang brings a nicely matter-of-fact humor as their mother. Li is very touching as Suni in later years, making one glad that they didn’t simply age Park up (as they did so unconvincingly with Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands). That decision contributes greatly to the film’s memorable and stirring denouement.


Film Review: A Werewolf Boy

We’ll take this warmly directed, deeply affecting supernatural romance over the entire synthetic Twilight series any day.

Nov 29, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1368438-Werewolf_Boy_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Suni Kim (Li Young-lan), an aged Korean woman living in America who has returned to her homeland, recounts the tale of A Werewolf Boy in flashback. As a sickly girl (played by young Park Bo-young) 47 years earlier, she was brought to a country house by her widowed mother (Jang Young-nam), along with her little sister and brother. Their quiet existence was shattered by the sudden appearance of a wildly animalistic stray boy (Song Joong-ki), whom the family took in and named Cheol-su.

Cheol-su is initially impossible, behaving more like a beast than a boy, but Suni takes him in hand and trains him into civility, using a dog manual. Cheol-su becomes devoted to the girl, and this arouses the jealously of Suni’s arrogantly obnoxious landlord Tae-sik (Yoo Yeon-seok, repulsively gotten up), who lusts after her. Cheol-su has already displayed superhuman strength and speed just playing childhood games with Suni, but whenever she is threatened, the real beast in him seems to come out.

This sure ain’t your grandpa’s werewolf movie! Writer-director Jo Sung-hee has crafted a highly watchable and affecting, genre-crossing work that emphasizes human emotion and interaction over horror. The early scenes with Cheol-su meeting Suni’s family and bonding with them are more Truffaut-Wild Child than Hammer Studio and often quite lovely. As he and Suni grow closer, their relationship has a romantic innocence, especially when she sings a glowing little song she composes for him. Their ravishingly photographed pastoral idyll is interrupted, of course, by hostile outside forces, headed by Tae-sik, which bring up the violence. It’s singular that in this age of so-called digital marvels, Cheol-su’s transformational werewolf moments are the weakest in the film, a rather cheap-looking matter of a shoddily furry mask and claws and rote camera effects which reek of B-movie budgetary constraints.

Hard-core horror lovers may be disappointed, but the film’s intelligent tact, human empathy and meltingly romantic approach are a more than fair tradeoff. Park and Song share a delicately profound chemistry and are the prettiest pair imaginable, with the boy in particular cleaning up well and resembling nothing so much as a real-life anime hero. The other children are radiantly adorable and Jang brings a nicely matter-of-fact humor as their mother. Li is very touching as Suni in later years, making one glad that they didn’t simply age Park up (as they did so unconvincingly with Winona Ryder in Edward Scissorhands). That decision contributes greatly to the film’s memorable and stirring denouement.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts 2015
Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Documentary

The long shadow and in-your-face reality of mortality shadows nearly all the entries in this year’s powerful, draining Oscar-nominated documentary short films program. More »

Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Live- Action

This year’s program of Oscar-nominated live-action short films is longer on character and short on cute. More »

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts 2015
Film Review: The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2015: Animation

Disney’s wonderful canine tale Feast is the standout in this year’s program of Oscar-nominated animated shorts. More »

Timbuktu
Film Review: Timbuktu

A nuanced, humanistic portrait of a town besieged by jihadists, its images of violence suffused with almost surreal dreaminess. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Wedding Ringer
Film Review: The Wedding Ringer

Intermittently amusing bro-comedy trifle that confirms Kevin Hart's talent, though not his taste in material. More »

Paddington
Film Review: Paddington

This feel-good, looks-great first-time big-screen adaptation of the beloved British children's stories about a stowaway Peruvian bear finding his, er, bearings in London is much more than just, oops, bearable. The handsome production greatly benefits from a top-notch cast of some of the U.K.’s finest actors and its beautiful blend of CGI-enriched live action and animated ursine star. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here