Contemporary World Cinema | 2015 | 99 minutes

Stranger Says:

There is a moment between life and death, a moment which is, one imagines, the zone of the liberated soul. Here, the ethereal stuff of the body is suspended before slipping into the darkness of nothingness. Alone, a South Korean film by Park Hong-min, is a thriller set in this liminal zone. It opens with a youngish man, Su-min (Lee Ju-won), witnessing and photographing an attack or killing on the nearby rooftop of a building in a dense and poor quarter of a vast city. The killers spot Su-min. He ducks and flees. But he is soon found and, we think, killed. But then he is alive again and dealing with what seem like episodes from his life. The camera, like Su-min, is very active. It roams the steps and alleys in search for a way out of this mad, mad world. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

SIFF Says:

Su-min has had a strange day. After witnessing and taking long-lens photos of a vicious attack on the rooftop across from his, he was hunted down by the criminals and bludgeoned to death with a hammer. But that’s not even the strangest part—the weird thing is he woke up, physically fine, naked, and in the center of town. Su-min finds himself wandering through a rambling, decaying cityscape, filled with stairways to nowhere, twisted alleyways, and unfamiliar houses, until his perpetrators inevitably find him and murder him again. And again. And again. Each time he wakes up in a different area of this maze-like neighborhood, questioning his never-ending existence, running into characters from different periods of his life, and unable to wake up from this incessant nightmare. Filmed in an underdeveloped part of Seoul and using dynamic long takes, Alone achieves a genuinely unsettling dreamlike atmosphere, with optic twists and turns akin to the art of M.C. Escher. South Korean director Park Hong-min delivers a mind-altering psycho-thriller, pushed along by a unique narrative structure and a beautifully claustrophobic visual style that tangles the viewer in one man’s descent into paranoia.

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Film Credits
Park Hong-min
Lee Ju-won, Song You-hyun
SIFF 2016