"3-Iron," from the director of the absolutely fabulous "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring," is another commentary on life and existence, but this time told in a completely different matter. About a young transient who lives in the homes of vacationing people and in return does their laundry and fixes things, the movie is about completing yourself. Or something like that.
Exactly what "3-Iron" is about is up for debate, and even the ending has many different interpretations. Without going into detail, it is hard to tell what exactly director Ki-duk Kim was intending, but that's also the point. There is no simple answer and Ki-duk does not provide one. And if you're someone who likes to think about and discuss the meaning of a film long after it is over, then "3-Iron" is a must see. For the rest of you, you probably should avoid it.
The movie follows Hyun-kyoon Lee, a silent (literally) young man who goes from house to house, living the life of its inhabitants because he has no solidified life of his own. Perhaps he is looking for the place that will complete him, or perhaps he just doesn't like staying in one spot, but his adventures finally lead him to a mansion where he comes across a beautiful wife who is looking to escape her abusive relationship. They leave together and she joins his lifestyle, and soon they fall in love in a perfect harmony of sorts. But the modern world is inevitably going to destroy the balance they have achieved, for he is in most senses a kidnapper. The movie gets stranger from there, but all that sets the stage for what is to come.
"3-Iron," despite being peaceful and slow, is well-paced and never boring. The movie proceeds like a dream, never faltering, never turning abruptly, yet slowly shaping itself into something else. Most alluring is the fact that there is little dialogue in the film - neither of the main characters speak a single word up until the very end. Few films and few directors could actually make a movie where there is so little dialogue succeed, but director Ki-duk is a master of it.
What the ultimate message of "3-Iron" is can be debated endlessly, but its message is powerful no matter how you interpret it. The movie is a well-done mini-masterpiece, though it never comes close to the perfection achieved by "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring." Still, this is another successful venture for a director who is quickly proving to be one of the most intriguing people making movies today.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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