A scene from "One Day With My Son"
By Kim Tae-jong
Director Jang Jin is famous for his twisty and unconventional storylines and creation of peculiar characters in such works as ``Gun and Talks’’ (2001), ``Someone Special’’ (2004) and ``Murder, Take One’’ (2005).
Having successfully won over a lot of fans with his particular style, it is no doubt that the audience has high expectations for his new film, ``One Day With My Son,’’ even if it seems to have many elements typical of a melodramatic tearjerker _ it is a story about a man serving a life sentence who gets one day out of jail for the first time in 15 years to meet his son.
But the new film is a total disaster as it is too Jang Jin-esque.
In the film, Lee Gang-sik (played by Cha Seung-won) is a criminal, who serves a life sentence in prison after being convicted of murder and robbery. For the first time in 15 years, the well-behaved prisoner is granted a one-day prison leave.
What he wants to do most is to see his son, whom he has never seen. He only remembers his son as he was when he was three-year-old _ the time he saw him last.
He is excited and nervous. There seem to be too many things to do in just one day. He wants to say, express and let him know how badly he misses him and how sorry he is.
But things are tougher than expected and the 39-year-old father is clumsy at everything.
His mother suffers from dementia and his teenage son, played by Ryu Deok-hwan, takes care of her without any help. He seems to have every reason to be mad at his incarcerated father. And the father doesn’t know what to say and what to do to mend a relationship that has been broken for 15 years.
But the father’s genuine feelings gradually open his son’s heart. To enjoy every second given to them, the father and son hang out together at night until they must once again part ways.
In the course of the film, it would be critical to capture and show the complicated and delicate relationship between the two. But the film forces the audience to experience it through the direct narration of the characters. For example, the father says to the audience, ``I’m so sad to have eyes that my son finds scary,’’ and the son says, ``Now I feel he is my father, rather than a criminal who killed people.’’ The narration is irritating because it takes away your chance to fully explore how the intimate relationship is mended.
The most deadly blow to the film, however, is the last unexpected turn toward the end of the film. It surely surprises the audience in an unpleasant way.
It gives one the idea that the director tried to deceive his audience in a very clumsy way, rather than the ``Oh, it all adds up’’ sort of ending. The director may have tried too hard to outwit the audience.