Asako in Ruby Shoes

Asako in Ruby Shoes

Rating: 5/10
Year: 2001
Genre: Drama
Director: E J Yong
Cast: Lee Jung-Jae, Tachibana Misato, Kim Min-Hee, Ren Osugi

Asako in Ruby Shoes is a Korean/Japanese co-production. Since the director and the majority of the crew are from Korea, I would categorize it under the Korean Cinema section.

The story of this film is quite interesting, in fact, the only reason that got me into buying the VCD of ths film is the synopsis. U-in (Lee Jung-Jae) is a shy and quiet government clerk. His job consists of tedious office tasks like petty paperwork and taking I.D card photos for local residents. He spends all his leisure times in front of the computer, viewing pornographic websites. One day, he comes across a girl Mia (Kim Min-Hee) at his office and falls in love with her at first sight. Because of his passive and timid personality, he always fails to confess to her. Feeling despair, he resorts to the porn websites again and accidentally comes to a website in which a face appears in front of his eyes. It is Aya (Tachibana Misato) appearing on a paid adult website...

Finding your true love on the internet, is it too idealistic? If you are an internet user, I am sure you might have this kind of fantasy before. The filmmakers are smart enough to turn this fantasy into a film subject. The more you cannot achieve the fantasy in reality, the more you would love to have it satisfied in a film viewing experience. If you have the same thought as I do, I have to turn you down now by saying that this film is absolutely not the kind of thing you are expecting. Although the plot of the film is exceptionally interesting, the filmmaker does choose a very exotic yet insipid way to present it.

This film is presented in a very dry and boring manner. It seems that the director is trying hard to intensify the insipidness of the characters' life. He repeats similar shots again and again. Aya is always chatting with her friend in the same bar; U-in is always sitting in front of the computer and browsing, or drinking beer at the penthouse. The film really lacks dynamism. Due to the setup of the plot (no spoiler I guess), Lee Jung Jae and Tachibana Misato fail to interact at all. It poses a serious problem here. A love story in which the two protagonists fail to develop any bond, how can you make their relationship intimate and plausible? Unless you can manipulate the editing and mise-en-scene as skilfully as director S. H. Sung does in Failian, it is really risky to set up such story. Sadly to say, E. J. Yong's approach seems ineffective. The intercuts are arranged in a dull way. It is like, the director shows us 20 minutes of U-in's life, then another 20 minutes go to Aya, then U-in again, the editing is not organic enough to stir up the emotion of the audience. It is why when the ending comes up, we cannot quite feel the prearranged romance there.

Having said all these problems of the film, I don't mean this film is totally worthless. Lee Jung-Jae displays his glamors as usual. He constructs the shy and timid image of U-in convincingly, though I still think this character is quite freaky (You'll agree with me if you have seen his behavior in the film). As a new actor, Tachibana Misato does not disappoint me. Her postures and facial expressions always come at the right time. Cameo of veteran actor Ren Osugi is also a plus for this film.

Asako in Ruby Shoes is not a very poor film actually. It is just that I am not really into Avant Garde Cinema. As an art-house film, it has a proportion of 30% entertainment and 70% art. Remember not to get the wrong expectation and you might be able to dig out more fun from it.

VCD (HK version) - The cinematography is pretty nice. If you are a fan of art house cinema and have spare money, get the DVD version.

Cool guy(s) - Lee Jung-Jae

Reviewed by: Kantorates