Film Review: Blood and Ties

Overloaded plotting undoes this initially absorbing crime story.

The happy life Da-eun (Son Ya-jin) shares with her eccentric but lovable single father Soon-man (Kim Kap-soo) is shattered as she begins to suspect him of the terrible kidnapping and murder of a little boy which happened 15 years ago and which continues to obsess seemingly all of Korea. As much as she tries to deny it, Da-eun finds herself inexorably burrowing into her dad's past to uncover whatever secrets he may be hiding. In the process, she discovers a myriad of truths which would perhaps have been better left unknown.

Blood and Ties
is a potentially riveting crime melodrama that becomes undone by severe overplotting. Director Kuk Dong-suk and screenwriter Bin Sun-hwa frontload their technically slick but overextended film with so many twists and contrivances that it becomes not only a chore to keep up with, but downright exhausting. As if two possibly kidnapped children, a heinous murder, both of Da-eun's parents being simultaneously comatose in hospital beds and a surfeit of last-minute confessions weren't enough, the statute of limitations in the murder case under investigation is almost up, with the clock ticking away and the denouement occurring, of course, at the essential, very last minute. As well-acted and initially absorbing as the story is, it is frankly all too much of a muchness in the end.

Son has a quiet loveliness in the role of Da-eun and makes an affecting, super-beset heroine who endures all manner of indignities, but after some initial, quite charming scenes of familial togetherness, Kim simply does not have enough layers or depth to suggest the deep-seated complexities of Soon-man's tortured character. At the crucial moment of revelation in the film, he breaks into some forced, maniacal laughter that seems a particularly lousy histrionic choice. Jo An is delectably pretty as Da-eun's perky girlfriend, while Kang Shin-il chews the scenery as the understandably bereft father of the dead boy.