PiFan 2012 Review: LET ME OUT

James Marsh, Asian Editor
Mu Young (Kwon Hyung Sang) is a frustrated, yet also frustrating, film student in his final year. He is opinionated, critical and easy to attack the works of his classmates and other filmmakers, but has still yet to produce anything for himself. When he lays into a visiting filmmaker and his new work at a Q&A session, he serves not only to anger the director and embarrass his lecturers, but also infuriate his classmates. This is only compounded when the director retaliates by awarding Mu Young with a $5000 grant, essentially chalkenging him to put his money where his mouth is and produce a film himself. Suddenly facing the intense pressure he had only dished out to others until now, Mu Young assembles a rag-tag cast and crew together to make a "zombie melodrama" that quickly becomes a nightmare production. 

Let Me Out is written and co-directed by independent filmmaker Kim Chang-lae and film professor Jae Soh from Seoul Institute of the Arts, and the script avails them the perfect opportunity to wreak revenge on the pretensious nature of their more over-zealous and cock-sure students. Mu Young frequently clashes with his best friend/producer over the practicalities of their limited shooting schedule and his reluctance to use product placement to boost their meagre budget. He also struggles to collaborate with a Director of Photography who has worked as camera loader for revered filmmaker Hong Sang Soo. Not to mention the wannabe starlet looking to turn her bit part into a soap opera-influenced lead, while his unassuming main actress slowly but surely captures his heart.

The film evokes a similar viewing experience to films like Tom Dicillo's Living In Oblivion or Marlon Rivera's The Woman In The Septic Tank, and benefits from a smart script, riddled with knowing references and informed jokes about filmmakers, film-making and those comfortable only "directing with their mouths". Let Me Out also delivers purely as a slice of light-hearted entertainment. The performances are strong and naturalistic throughout, the pacing keeps things moving along at a brisk pace, while the directors smartly resist the temptation to make either the comedy too goofy or the romance too melodramatic. The result is a light and breezy comedy that shows a keen understanding of its subject matter and a confidence behind the camera that only serves to further bolster the film's message: it's not necessarily what you know that is most important, but how you adapt, collaborate and, ultimately, perform that defines you and what you really stand for. 
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