Directed by LEE Hae-young
by HAN Sunhee
Not to mention the case of JANG Sun-woo’s Lies , fight for freedom of expression in past Korean cinema had mostly involved movies about sex. Even so, despite the tacit agreement of the entertainment business that ‘sex always sells’, number of films on sex itself had been very limited in the last few years. It shows what a difficult and delicate theme sex can be in Korean film market. Nevertheless, Foxy Festival directed by LEE Hae-young boldly challenges itself to such taboo. Writing the screenplay himself, the director chose to make use of imagination and humor to express this provocative subject in a comical and cheerful way. Here are his words, “I wished to face sex right in the face but do so in a way that has been never tried before. Nothing dark or uncomfortable. I tried my best to hold onto the bright, refreshing jokes at all times. In fact I hoped to describe even the uncommon, peculiar sex as healthy and energetic.”
The film is consisted of a multi-plot structure with separate stories of four couples. Jang-bae (SHIN Ha-kyun), who has always been confident about his sexual powers, is shocked when he finds a vibrator in his girlfriend Ji-su(UM Ji-won)’s room. An elegant Hanbok store owner Sun-shim (SHIM Hyejin) is aroused when she finds handcuffs. High school girl Ja-hye makes money as a part time clerk selling sweaty underwear, and persistently tries to win the heart of Sangdu (RYOO Seung-bum), a mysterious junk-food seller on the street. Middle age teacher Gwang-rok (OH Dal-soo) grows a fetish after he tries on a sexy bra he bought for his wife. Such unique and provocative characters have unusual tastes in sex, yet daringly reveal their desires, moving towards the festivity at the end as they encounter and pass by each other.
Director LEE Hae-young says he had “a romantic porn version of Love Actually ” in mind when he was writing the treatment. In his previous film Like a Virgin he had beautifully described the theme of transgender in a heart-warming way. This time he touches upon those sexual fantasies everyone is always curious about but afraid to ask through a kitschy method. “I wish this film will be colorful and multishaped rather than being refined and pretty. I want it to be remembered as a color of junk food that may be bad for the health but sweet on the tongue.”
For the comical expression of deviant sexual fantasies, much effort was put into costumes and props. Each couple from the movie seek different concept of sex, thus they are differentiated visually as well. In the episode of the genitalobsessed macho cop played by SHIN Ha-kyun and chic vibrator-using lady played by UM Ji-won, appears a prop maximizing the director’s imagination and humor. The musical guru of Korea’s electronica genre, Dalparan will add the excitement to the film with their disco-based soundtrack.
Of course, Foxy Festival will not remain to be a simple joke about sex. With the works of Paul Thomas ANDERSON in mind, LEE Hae-young reveals his wishes for his audiences to look back upon their desires and be reminded of certain reality. “While they giggle and chase after the story and its characters, in the end hopefully they will feel all the sexual encounters from the movie are lovely and charming. I wish everyone will realize each and every character is true to one’s heart and none of them deserves to be criticized.”
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