TELL ME SOMETHING

NR
Reviews

In Seoul, Detective Cho (Han Suk-gyu) is hot on the trail of the most disturbed serial killer imaginable. This sick mind is fond of not only killing his prey, but dismembering them with surgical precision and leaving tell-tale body parts where the next likely victim will find them. Cho discovers that these mutilated dead men have a common link, as they were all lovers of a mysterious, beautiful young artist, Chae Su-yeon (Shim Eun-ha). Will she be the next to be hacked to pieces? Or is she the perp?

A determinedly gruesome murder mystery, Tell Me Something mixes borrowed tropes from some of the most famous works in the genre. You have the mastermind serial killer out of The Silence of the Lambs, a little dab of incest from Chinatown and the terrified damsel-in-distress of Klute. Director Chang Youn-hyun keeps things humming with all manner of hideous murders, mutilations, chases and car crashes. (Not the subtlest of directors, he's particularly fond of the found decapitated head.) He's obviously looked long and hard at his American examples, and seems almost determined to outdo us in terms of graphic violence and mordant "realism." The cops are of the typical chain-smoking, seen-it-all variety (although Chang Hang-sun, as a particularly weathered detective, makes a strong, characterful impression). The film is a singularly grim joyride for the strong of stomach and macabre of mind. For all its hard-bitten flavor, what it definitely lacks is any real human element which would make us care about the victims, Cho or Su-yeon. As played by Han, Cho is a stock, stoically handsome detective of a type which dates back to Dana Andrews in Laura, without any of the earlier character's intriguingly romantic, necrophiliac bent. At one point, when Su-yeon asks him to go with her to Paris, he reacts as blandly as if he were some very polite non-smoker being offered a cigarette. Flower faced Shim is also something of an emotional void; Chang relies on melodramatic childhood flashbacks to convey her inner turmoil. She's probably the most prettily blank noir heroine since Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai. And, despite all manner of red herrings, you can pretty much see that "surprise" ending coming well before the finale.

--David Noh