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Film Review: ‘Beasts Clawing At Straws’: A Marvelous Debut from Kim Yong-Hoon

Courtesy of Kino Marquee

It was both a surprise and delight when Bong Joon Ho’s South Korean film Parasite won four Oscars in February 2020, including Best International Feature Film and Best Picture. The film made history, being the first non-English speaking feature film to take home Best Picture in Oscar’s history. When these awards—among others—were granted, Joon Ho stated in one of his speeches, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” A few months later, another South Korean film is proving his point.

Beasts Clawing At Straws is yet another riveting film from South Korea. The movie introduces multiple characters that all have one thing in common: they are all desperate people willing to go to desperate measures to better their lives. Following a duffel bag filled to the brim with money, we meet each character and their stories intertwine in an enjoyable way that will keep you guessing until the very end.

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This picture is a dazzling debut for director and writer Kim Yong-Hoon. While the genre of dark comedy meshed with thriller in this film is reminiscent of Parasite, Yong-Hoon makes sure to insert his individual style and flair. Experimenting with unique shot angles and gripping visuals pays off for this new director. In terms of the storyline, Yong-Hoon succeeds in crafting a rare imaginative tale that entertains constantly and ends seamlessly.

Jeon Do-Yeon offers the most shocking and impressive acting in the entire film. The character she portrays is very complex and allows the actress a chance to showcase her talents. Do-Yeon does not pass up this opportunity and proves that she is one to watch. Throughout her career, she has earned 35 awards and 18 nominations that did not garner an award from multiple organizations. It would be no surprise if Do-Yeon receives more nominations and wins for this film, but it would be electrifying to see an Oscar nomination in her future. 

The motion picture is chock full of memorable and disturbing segments. Containing ample minutes of violence, Yong-Hoon makes it hard to forget this movie. The cinematography throughout also makes these hard-to-watch moments more haunting. One particular scene near the end of the film involving a public bathroom was especially striking and may spur on a small jump when observed.

With the 2019 Oscars acknowledging and praising Bong Joon Ho and his masterpiece, who’s to say that this film as well as Kim Yong-Hoon won’t be up for Oscars notoriety at the 2020 Academy Awards? Given his masterful screenplay that ties together flawlessly as well its distinctive appearance, viewers may see another South Korean film recognized at the next Academy Awards. At the very least, seeing Jeon Do-Yeon renowned for her extraordinary performance is warranted.

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If you have decided to heed Bong Joon Ho’s wise advice and look past the one-inch barrier that is subtitles, Beasts Clawing At Straws is a must watch. If you are still on the fence about reading while engaging in a film, why not give this film a try? The movie opens with a lot of tension to keep you engrossed, and presents questions that you will want answered. We will be waiting on the edge of our seats for Kim Yong-Hoon to release more creative and bizarre works.

Beasts Clawing At Straws opens in select theaters nationwide from Kino Marquee on October 21st.  

SCORE: ★★★1/2

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Written by Kendall Tinston

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