Plot: Min-Soo was a loyal employee for eight years, but was never advanced and was eventually laid off without a second thought. He has been without work for months, unable to find a new position and his girlfriend Su-jin has no idea, but he plans to find work before she discovers the truth. This becomes a problem when Su-jin signs a deed to take over the cafe she works at, a move she thinks will set up the couple’s future, only to learn Min-soo is unemployed. She is hurt at the deception and frustrated with the lack of progress in life from Min-Soo, so she dumps him. He winds up working small crimes with her brother, who moved from stealing cel phones to using Min-soo’s knowledge as a former car insurance agent to target bigger scores. The cash begins to flow, but Min-soo soon faces a violent confrontation in one of the thefts, an incident that will forever change him and his future…
Entertainment Value: Gifted begins as a tense drama, then slowly unravels in a psychological thriller that sinks its hooks in deep. The narrative starts off a little slow to establish some quick exposition, but begins a gradual boil soon and as Min-soo’s world collapses around him, things continue to spiral into darkness. I can why some might dislike the rather slow open, but I think it is needed to develop Min-soo right from the start and give us a glimpse into the more grounded lifestyle he might have, should he have remained employed. The depth given to the character pays dividends later in the movie, so I think it was a wise approach. And once Min-soo has the confrontation with his girlfriend, the pace really kicks in and the downward spiral begins, which takes us on a dark, wild ride. The tension runs hot and as the narrative progresses, an unpredictable vibe sets in.
There’s also a psycho-sexual thread that runs through Gifted, as Min-soo discovers a taste for some kink, then explores it deeper and deeper. The movie features several sex scenes and while not that graphic, there is frequent man ass and some topless shots, so it is a little risque at times. There’s violence, but not much bloodshed. The cast here is rock solid, in rather stylized, but still effective performances. Kim Beom-joon plays the lead well and gets to show off his talents as the character evolves, which he can more than handle. Bae Jung-hwa also has a prominent role as Min-soo’s love interest and while she is brash, I like her performance and it adds to the movie. As I said, the acting here feels stylized more than grounded, so it is a little over the top, but not to insane levels. This carries over to the dialogue, which comes across as stilted or unnatural at times, but I think it works, given the creepy vibes of the movie. I found Gifted to be a solid thriller that takes us on a nice, dark ride through one man’s torments and it deserves a strong recommendation.
The Disc: 88 Films has graced us with a great looking presentation, which is good news, since the movie has some interesting visual elements. I found detail to be strong and contrast was even, with no real drawbacks I could detect. The image has a natural look and it works well for the film’s tone and approach. The lone extra is the film’s theatrical trailer.