AFI Fest 2013: ‘The Fake’

This dark Korean animated feature, “The Fake,” illustrates how easy it is to incite violence. Watching it, I wanted to slap the two main female characters and yell, “Get a grip” or the equivalent in Korean.

Director/writer Yeon Sang-Ho takes us to a town doomed to extinction: A dam will flood the are and all the residents must move, using the compensation money. You get the idea that the brighter bulbs in this neighborhood, left to shine somewhere else. As our protagonist, Min-Chul, we had a boozing, gambling man who beats both his wife and his daughter. His wife’s reaction is to beg, cry and pray. His daughter mouths off, but she, too, doesn’t really fight back. He’s trouble, in an obvious package.

Less obvious is the evil that lurks in the smooth manners and nice suit of the the local church elder, Choi, and even the earnest Father Sung.

Director Yeon said in a post-screening Q&A that he didn’t mean to criticize religion so much as he wanted to show how the truth coming from a bad person can be ignored by people while lies of a slick, clean cut person will be accepted.  We have seen the minister as a con-man before, but here the Father Sung is being used, the father Min-Chul uses his wife and daughter and Choi uses all of them.

There is an epiphany which seems to support faith and give Min-Chul redemption, but will you really care? This animated feature is for mature audiences because of violent content and sexual situations.  “The Fake” might be hard to find outside of film festivals.


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