Dallas IFF 2012 Review: LET ME OUT

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
Let Me Out is a film that explores a very primal fear of mine and does so with a fantastically dry sense of humor. The fear is that for all of my passion for film and alleged understanding thereof, if I were forced to make my own, I'd end up like a deer in the headlights. It is relatively simple for me to watch a film unfold onscreen and nitpick it to pieces, "This was good, that was not so good, overall: meh." However, when faced with the opportunity to make my own, I can only imagine the anxiety attacks that would ensue. This is the story of Let Me Out.

Back in the 1950's, the French New Wave was established based upon the incredibly arrogant idea that the best filmmaker would be a critic of the cinema. The trouble was that, in many cases, they ended up being right. The auteur theory was born, and so came the flood of Nouvelle Vague films from France in which a succession of incredibly talented and literate headcases created some of the most stunning and atypical films of the sixties. Enter Mu-young.

Mu-young is a film student like many film students and film geeks around the world. He bemoans the state of Korean cinema and is never satisfied with anything he sees. When filmmaker YANG Ik-joon (director, writer, star of Breathless playing himself) comes to Mu-young's film school to show his newest film, our hero can't help himself from giving Yang shit about the film. It is too commercial, the point of view is too subjective, etc., all typical film school blather, before getting carted out of the Q & A by his best friend.

YANG decides to force Mu-young to put his money where his mouth is and bestows a $5,000 grant on Mu-young to complete a film project. After Mu-young finishes shitting himself, he realizes that he's actually going to have to put up or shut up. After the requisite cast and crew assembly montage, it becomes very apparent that Mu-young has no idea what he's doing. He's poked and prodded by from all sides in an attempt to get him to do something, but he's still stiffens at the first sign of responsibility.

Co-directors KIM Chang-rae and SOH Jae-yong use Let Me Out as an effective way to take the piss out of anyone who complains about the state of film today. The fact of the matter is that no matter on what level you attempt it, directing a feature length film is fucking hard. It can build or break a man and his relationships with others. Mu-young fights his way through several stages of director-hood, he begins as a pushover, turns into a tyrant who alienates everyone on his crew, and ultimately turns a corner and makes the final push when he realizes that this is a labor of love and not only his own.The story is an old one, friends challenged break apart and come back together. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back.

The thing that makes this film work so well is that this boy is fighting a fight that most of us can see ourselves attempting at some stage. No matter on what level, I would wager that most film writers have imagined themselves on a film set either giving or taking orders. Most of us don't have the balls, but a few of us get our shit together, suck it up, and take the plunge. The ups and downs of independent film production are certainly far more complex that a ninety-seven minute film can convey, but Let Me Out is a quick and dirty primer on the follies of pride when it comes to putting your vision on screen.

The directors have put together a very cool little feature here, with a cast that boasts great performances all around. KWON Hyeon-sang as Mu-young is the anchor of the film and handles his character's arc admirably. Throw in an extended cameo from YANG Ik-june and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it walk-on from LE Myung-se, and you've got a couple of great names to throw on a marquee. Let Me Out is a fun coming of age story for the film geek set, and will knock 'em dead at film festivals. Check it out!

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