Me and Me (2019) ☆☆(2/4): A lazy and pointless labyrinth of nightmare (or whatever)

South Korean film “Me and Me” gave me one of the most boring experiences I have had during last several years. While it throws one strange moment after another throughout its convoluted plot, none of these odd moments sticks to the wall without providing any substance to its hopelessly barebone story and characters, and the overall result is a lazy and pointless labyrinth of nightmare which nearly bored me to death without much pleasure or satisfaction.

At first, the movie simply observes the daily life of a young teacher named Soo-hyeok (Bae Soo-bin) and his wife I-yeong (Cha Soo-yeon), who have resided in an old house located in some country village since he was recently transferred to a local elementary school. Although they do not have any kid between them, Soo-hyeok and his wife are simply happy together in their current residence, and that aspect is clearly shown from their cordial dinner scene.

Of course, it soon turns out that Soo-hyeok and his wife have a dark secret behind them. In the middle of the dinner, Soo-hyeok begins to hear his dead mother’s voice shortly after he reminisces a bit about his mother, and the voice comes from I-yeong, who, for some unknown reason, seems to be possessed by souls of dead people every night. At one point, she is possessed by the soul of an old real-life comedian, and she willingly teaches her husband a bit on how to look really funny in his clumsy dance.

Not so surprisingly, this secret of theirs is eventually revealed to one of village residents, who later has a pretty tough experience as I-yeong happens to be possessed by a famous real-life wrestler at that point. Soo-hyeok later manages to make this dude promise that he will not tell anything to others, but, what do you know, it does not take much time for others in the village to come to learn of I-yeong’s secret, and Soo-hyeok accordingly faces a very awkward situation because of that. Although his wife has not done anything wrong, others in the village want Soo-hyeok to keep her under more control, and I-yeong consequently finds herself imprisoned in the attic of her house every night.

Now this can be a nice setup for your average country noir thriller mixed with some possible supernatural elements, but director/writer Jung Jin-young, who has been mainly known for a number of his supporting performances in notable South Korean films including “Svaha: The Sixth Finger” (2019), suddenly turns everything upside down. After Soo-hyeok volunteers to be imprisoned along with his wife at one night, an unfortunate incident happens in their house, and a cop named Hyeong-goo (Cho Jin-woong) arrives for the investigation of the case. As this cop comes to sense something fishy about the case, everyone in the village naturally becomes nervous as pathetically trying to avoid any blame or responsibility, and we accordingly get a couple of cheap comic moments as they fumble more than once.

It does not take much time for Hyeong-goo to have a pretty good idea on what actually happened, but then the movie commits another big narrative flip as entering its second act along with Hyeong-goo, who suddenly finds himself in an inexplicably surreal situation beyond his understanding. The more he tries to get out of his baffling circumstance, the more it looks like there is no way out for him, and he naturally becomes more frustrated and exasperated as reminded again and again of his possibly grim status.

This new setup can be a good ground for comedy or drama or whatever, but, alas, the movie simply meanders along with Hyeong-goo without any sense of direction or logic. In addition, Hyeong-goo is a flat and uninteresting guy who merely swings back and forth between anger and frustration throughout the second act, and several other supporting characters in the story are more or less than broad caricatures on the whole while Soo-hyeok and I-yeong do not have much presence over this part due to their glaring lack of personality.

In the end, the movie does not explain anything at all to us as tediously slouching toward its lackluster finale which does not add much to the story and characters. No, I do not mind the lack of explanation itself at all, but Jung’s screenplay does not have any substance interesting enough to hold my attention, and the movie is even quite deficient in case of mood and style, though you may say that its plain presentation of its local background and characters is a sort of style and personality.

As I got disappointed more and more during my viewing, my mind, which had already got quite tired of its criminally insipid storytelling, kept going back to several better films out there, and now I am thinking of how much they succeed in each own way. While Harold Ramis’ classic comedy film “Groundhog Day” (1993) transcends its seemingly repetitive one-joke setup with sharp wit and profound moments of laughs, David Lynch’s surreal masterpiece “Mulholland Dr.” (2001) exuberantly dances along with its strikingly memorable characters as constantly implying the hidden sinister logics of its beautifully labyrinthian dreamland, and Jo Sung-hee’s underrated South Korean indepedent film “End of Animal” (2010) is filled with enough mood, personality, and imagination to distinguish itself even though we are frequently baffled over what the hell is going on around its unfortunate heroine.

Compared to these three films, “Me and Me” is a mediocre piece of dreck which is also pretty witness and unimaginative to the core, and it is really depressing to observe the fairly good efforts from its several main cast members including Cho Jin-woong, Bae Soo-bin, Lee Sun-bin, and Cha Soo-yeon, who manages to leave some substantial impression although the movie does not demand much from her except doing several voice imitations. These good performers do reach for anything interesting to hold our attention, but, folks, the movie does not support them at all from the very beginning, and that is all.

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