Obsessed movie review

A married colonel in the Korean Army starts an affair with the wife of his subordinate. Hilarity does not ensue.

Only 만: ★.5

Side Dish: At a picnic, the two lead couples sit down to a delicious meal of Spam. If you’d like to do the same, here are 12 Spam Hacks from Serious Eats.

Colonel Kim Jin Pyeong (Song Seung Heon) returns from Vietnam to normal life on an army base. He struggles with PTSD, and feels smothered by his wife, Lee Sook Jin (Cho Yeo Jeong), the daughter of the base commander. When a new subordinate arrives, Jin Pyeong begins an affair with his wife, Jong Ga Heun (Lim Ji Yeon).

I’ll skip the rest of the summary since it’s pretty obvious where this is going to end up; Obsessed doesn’t deviate from the standard script for an extramarital affair drama. I won’t comment on this well worn tale other than to say it seems hypocritical to provide us with the voyeuristic thrill of illicit sex, only to tack on a moral at the end to make sure we know how wrong it is.

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The character of Jin Pyeong is best described as Don Draper of “Mad Men” recast as an army colonel. He smokes a lot, looks great in his uniform, and has an impossibly cool exterior. Inside, he’s miserable, suffocated by his current life, and troubled by his past. So, when Jin Pyeong is presented with a fascinating outsider in the form of a beautiful woman, it’s not long before he latches on to her. His wife, Sook Jin, is the ringleader of a group of army wives who serve as a sort of Greek chorus to the story, providing amusingly bitchy interludes as a break from the main action.

Unfortunately, it’s the main action that’s the biggest failure of Obsessed. Song Seung Heon is spectacularly handsome as Jin Pyeong, but limited in range, unable to convey either the anger that stems from Jin Pyeong’s PTSD, or the longing he feels for Ga Heun. Lim Ji Yeon, playing the female lead in her feature film debut, doesn’t do much more than look convincingly confused. There’s no chemistry between the two of them, nor anything to explain why they’re drawn to each other at all, aside from ennui. The director, Kim Dae Woo, does his best to overcome this massive limitation, with well-placed flashbacks and stand-in characters to convey emotion, but ultimately fails at creating a convincing couple. Consequently, the sex scenes are either filmed at a distance, or concentrate on their sweaty bodies, leaving the viewer to try to piece together the emotions that compel their ultimately ruinous act.

I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say, it’s substantially more muddled than the rest of the film (it actually downgraded my rating by a star). If you do choose to watch Obsessed, you’ll enjoy it more by treating it as an extended photo shoot for the lead actors, and skipping the last half hour entirely.

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