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June 26, 2008

The Wig

the wig 1.jpg

Won Shin-yeon - 2005
Genius Products Region 1 DVD

From just reading the synopsis, The Wig may seem like one of the dopier entries, one of the too many Asian horror films about cursed objects that haunt seemingly innocent victims. In this case, a young woman, Su-Hyun, has, unknown to her, terminal leukemia, and receives the wig to cover her hair loss from chemotherapy. The wig makes Su-Hyun appear healthy and indeed, she feels revitalized. To follow are some subtle physical changes. Soon after that are nightmare visions affecting both Su-Hyun and the people closest to her.

What makes The Wig eminently worth watching is that it is a character driven film. Yes, there is the requisite shock and gore, but it is used judiciously, making the startling moments more effective. The real story of The Wig is about the fragile connection between three people, Su-Hyun, her sister who bought the wig, Ji-Hyun, and her fiance, Ki-Seok. The film is about images, how things appear, and what is revealed or hidden by images.

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Art is used to explore the theme of the image. Su-Hyun uses the wig to disguise her illness. She also spends time recreating old family snapshots, replacing the shots of her sad, withdrawn self with those of a seemingly happier person. Ji-Hyun and Ki-Seok are artists. Ji-Hyun works with glass creating sculptures of people that are distorted. The fiance's artwork masks homoerotic impulses that has trouble fully acknowledging. The film makes use of a color scheme of black, primarily the wig, white, the clothing worn by the characters, and varied shades of gray.

There are allusions to Christianity, most clearly when the wigged Su-Hyun states that she feels reborn. Some Christian iconography figures into the film, primarily as part an art project Ki-Seok does on behalf of a church. What holds The Wig together is the remarkable performance by Chae Min-Seo and Su-Hyun. It may simply be the shaved head, yet Chae strongly made me think of Maria Falconetti in Passion of Joan of Arc. Chae's performance is one reason why The Wig is so much better than I would have expected. Additionally, the photography is more imaginative and precise, especially in how Chae's face is framed in the beginning of the film. The Wig is a reminder that it isn't just the story, but how you tell it, that makes a film worth watching.

the wig 3.jpg

Posted by peter at June 26, 2008 07:16 AM


Damn man do you watch all these movies in the middle of the summer?

Posted by: Nikolaos Swthriou at June 27, 2008 04:19 AM