Based on an actual crime case, Memories of Murder takes place in 1986 South Korea as two small town cops and a special detective from Seoul try to solve a string of serial murders and rapes in the province of Gyunggi.
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Bong's powerhouse directing and unique tone really come alive in this film, juxtaposing the absolute emptiness in the doomed search for a killer (and their own identity) with the humor of the quiet moments. In the process, there's a sense we're watching a truly epic journey, both all-consuming and timeless. Truly, a great film.
This is not a murder mystery. Nor is it a Who-Dun-it. Rather it is a study in individual human nature and how that can change given time and circumstances. The final scene, the final line, the final word, is perhaps the most chilling thing I've ever seen in a movie.
Even better than its accidental Western companion piece, Zodiac, MoM is one of the most ambitious works of popular narrative in the last 20 years: from its tonal evolution that mirrors the characters' intro to "evil", the expressive switching of perspectives, its implicit capturing of an era's confusion, & one of the most convincing & involving depictions of man's confrontation with the void—and therefore himself.