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Crush and Blush

(Misseu Hongdangmu)

Canadian Premiere

  • South korea 2008
  • 101 min
  • 35mm
  • Korean with English subtitles
WINNER: Special Award for Audacity, New York Asian Film Festival 2009
WINNER: Best Screenplay, Best New Director, Blue Dragon Film Awards 2008
Official Selection, Pusan International Film Festival 2008
Official Selection, Udine Far East Film Festival 2009

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"A truly unique film... easily the best Korean comedy or indeed character drama of recent years" — James Mudge, BEYHONDHOLLYWOOD.COM

"One of the most interesting and original Korean films of 2008" — Darcy Paquet, KOREANFILM.ORG

"Directed with the batty humor of Almodovar's early gems" — HOLLYWOOD REPORTER


Director: Lee Kyoung-mi
Screenplay: Lee Kyoung-mi
Cast: Kong Hyo-jin, Lee Jong-hyeuk, Seo Woo, Hwang Woo-seul-hye, Pang Eun-jin
Producers: Park Chan-wook
Distributor: Finecut

Part of...

Flirting with Chaos   

Flirting with Chaos


Me-sook’s a difficult one, all right. Her monologues at machine-gun tempo add up to utterly irrational ideas and if anyone contradicts her, her face becomes violently flushed. As a result, she’s a hard woman to warm up to. A former high school loser, today she’s the most detested teacher at the very same school she once attended, where she’s tasked with teaching Russian. Me-sook couldn’t be more different from her kind, capable, sensitive and thoroughly beloved colleague Yu-ri. So when one of them must be transferred to English instruction, guess which one it is? That’s right, class, it sure is the lady with the crimson mug and the miserable grasp of English. Me-sook’s slow-boiling resentment of Yu-ri has now reached meltdown temperature, and when Mr. Seo, a former teacher and current co-worker for whom Me-sook has harboured an intense, decade-long crush embarks on an affair with her rival, war is declared! With a nasty plot in the hatching, Me-sook conspires with Jong-hee, Mr. Seo’s daughter, whose stated intention is to rescue her parents’ failing marriage—but conceals her true motives towards her dad. Together, they cook up a bizarre strategy to derail their targets’ illicit romance.

The polar opposite of your standard romantic comedy fare, CRUSH AND BLUSH is a ferocious farce of love, lust and loathing, loaded with black humour. To hell with taboos, let’s laugh ourselves sick at adultery (which is illegal in Korea, just so you know), at shameless sexuality and liberally lascivious language! And why not have a teenage student read chunks of the Kama Sutra to her benevolent teacher? Such uninhibited brashness makes the debut feature from Lee Kyoung-mi a winner, snagging her awards for Best New Director and Best Screenplay at the Blue Dragon Awards—beating out THE CHASER, to the amazement of many. Loaded with astounding dialogue, that script, Lee’s own, is just one of the many plusses that CRUSH AND BLUSH boasts, alongside biting yet never overblown gags, whiplash plot twists that by some strange sorcery remain plausible and richly developed characters brought vividly to life by a uniformly excellent cast. The queen of the whole affair, however, is unquestionably Kong Hyo-jin, who was born to play the part of the complex and complicated Me-sook. Oh, one last thing—a certain Park Chan-wook, director of OLDBOY, produced CRUSH AND BLUSH, and both he and director Bong Joon-ho (THE HOST) pop up in cool cameos!

—Nicolas Archambault (translated by Rupert Bottenberg)

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