Fantasia Film Festival 2019 Review: IDOL

Fantasia Film Festival is back for its 23rd edition, and man, what an absolute cracker of a programme we have this year.

Fantasia Film Festival 2019

I’ll be starting off this year’s Fantasia Film Festival coverage with South Korean thriller, IDOL.

I’m sure I’ve said this in many an article: Fantasia Film Festival rounds-up every film I’ve written about over the past year and puts them all into one great festival. They’ve got spectacular taste in picking the best genre-orientated movies. To me, it is the true birthplace of independent cinema. Not only that, their appreciation of dark Asian cinema is something we rarely see at any festival. That is why it is only fair to start off this year’s coverage with Lee Su-jin’s IDOL.

Previous information I had was telling me that Idol took us back to when South Korean Revenge Cinema was at its most brutal and finest. After watching it, I don’t think that was an accurate way of marketing the film.

Ok, this was not gonna be the revenge film I was hoping for. Regardless of my previous hopes for the movie, this was still damn fine filmmaking.

I would describe Idol as a dark political thriller with an underlying pulse that deals with Immigration. I found comparisons to The Yellow Sea. Not that they’re any similarities in the storyline. They’re both dark thrillers that deal with immigration between China and Korea. Idol and The Yellow Sea would make a fantastic double-bill.

Idol opens with a very disturbing narrative.

Those of you not used to the nature of Korean cinema, the opening words would guarantee to turn the normal cinema goer away. In fact, the opening words would probably put 99% of cinema-goers off of the movie. As for the other 1%, well, that’s you, and that is why you’re still reading.

After returning home from a work trip, Councilor Koo arrives home to find his wife cleaning bloodstains off of their son’s car. The son was involved in a hit-and-run and is showing little remorse. The actions of the councilman and his wife that night start off an unpredictable chain of events between two families.

A dark, bloody political drama with two flawless lead performances. Not as hardcore as some would hope. Nonetheless Idol a great piece of work.

I would also like to advise NOT reading the official synopsis. Maybe it’s only me, but I think it gave away too much of the story. The less you know, the better.

Idol stars: Chun Woo-hee Sul Kyung-gu & Han Seok-kyu
Directed/Written by Lee Su-jin. This marks Su-jin’s second feature with the first being bleak rape drama Han Gong-ju (2013)

As always, thanks for reading. More Fantasia Film Festival coverage on the way with our review for the new South Korean serial killer flick, The Gangster, The Cop & The Devil.

Words by Gary Gamble
Founder/Owner/BigCheese @ Moviehooker

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