” A woman can get stoned to death, but not a man?”
Bedevilled is a slow-burning story of tragedy & vengeance. Directed by Jang Chul-Soo, Bedevilled is the story of Kim Bok-Nam a young mother who suffers harrowing abuse & degradation until one day tragedy strikes & she finally snaps, seeking retribution & vengeance with a sickle.
The movie begins in Seoul, where Hae-Won is having problems at the bank she works at. To complicate matters further she witnesses a murder attempt. She decides to get away for a while & travels to the island of Moodo, an island she spent her childhood holidays. Her friend from her childhood Kim Bok-Nam still lives on Moodo & has been writing to Hae-Won ever since. Kim Bok-Nam’s life is nothing but an endless cycle of violence, abuse & toil. Her husband subjects her to regular beatings, belittles her at every turn & humiliates her by hiring a prostitute from the mainland, having sex with her while Kim Bok-Nam waits patiently outside. The old women on the island treat her with disdain & work her relentlessly in the fields. The only good thing in Kim Bok-Nam’s life is her young daughter. Kim Bok-Nam begs Hae-Won to take her daughter & herself back to Seoul with her. When Hae-Won refuses Kim Bok-Nam takes matters into her own hands but is thwarted in her attempts to leave leading to a tragedy that finally pushes Kim Bok-Nam over the edge into a violent vengeful rage.
Bedevilled is a slow-moving movie that takes its time to establish characters & the background story before unleashing scenes of bloody & violent vengeance. The acting is first-rate. Park Jeong-hak as Man-Jong is suitably sleazy & nasty as Kim Bok Nam’s husband, Baek Su-ryun is wonderfully despicable as Grandma Dong-ho, the head of the old women on the island. But it is Seo Yeong-hee as Kim Bok-Nam whose performance is nothing short of outstanding. You really feel for Kim Bok-Nam, Seo Yeong-hee really captures the very essence of a woman that keeps going no matter what is thrown at her until her world is brought crashing down. In many respects the movie is worth seeing for her performance alone. Once blood is spilt you want to see Kim Bok-Nam gain vengeance for everything she has been forced to endure. Sadly the movie has two failings, both of which let the movie down quite badly Hae-Won is a self-centered unlikable character that you just cannot warm to. I realise she is supposed to be ambivalent to what is happening to her friend & is partly responsible for the tragedy, but as a viewer you can’t find anything in her character that Kim Bok-Nam would like. Of course she represents a possible escape route but Kim Bok-Nam truly feels for her as a best friend. The other flaw is the ending of the movie, it has a couple of twists that were not really necessary & the outcome of the movie certainly left me unsatisfied. I cannot go into any more detail as I would be revealing huge spoilers.
Bedevilled is certainly worth watching, it is a wonderfully acted tale of revenge. It could have been truly amazing, as it is it is still a very powerful movie. I should also point out that there are scenes of violence & brutality in the movie that some people may find hard to watch.