The Bacchus Lady ("Jugyeojuneun Yeoja")
Sponsored by Nongshim
Official Selection: Berlinale 2016 (Panorama), Hong Kong International Film Festival 2016, Seattle International Film Festival 2016
“E brings attention to the harsh realities of growing old without a safety net, but also infuses his characters with warmth and racy humor” – Maggie Lee, VARIETY
Sixty-five-year-old So-young is a “Bacchus Lady.” Once a prostitute on a U.S. military base, she now caters to an older crowd, soliciting clients in the hang-out parks of Seoul, where old men meet to talk and play. One day, she crosses the path of a young “Kopino” boy: a half-Filipino, half-Korean kid separated from his mother. Reminded of the son she had, but never knew, she decides to care for him, all the while tending to her many clients. Among them is Song, a stroke victim that comes to her one day with an unusual request. Indeed, more than asking for the customary “petite mort,” he is now asking So-young if she could assist him in the big, final one: his suicide. Surely, there’s nothing that could go wrong.
Carried by a wonderfully spunky performance from veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung (RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN, THE TASTE OF MONEY), E J-Yong’s THE BACCHUS LADY (AKA THE KILLER LADY in its literal title) is a thoroughly compassionate and revealing look at the lives of aging prostitutes in South Korea – with a murderous twist! More so, it is a tremendous character study through which E J-Yong proves unafraid to hold up a mirror to his country’s many ugly truths, including the fallout of the American occupation and today’s treatment of women, the elderly and people of mixed heritage. As uncompromising as it is refreshing, THE BACCHUS LADY is quite simply one of the best Korean films of the year — a tremendously touching achievement, and a film about one’s right to die with dignity, but also to take pride in one’s path in life, no matter the stigma or the circumstance.
— Ariel Esteban Cayer