Friday, December 15, 2017

Film Review: Montage (2013)

Montage (Review)
South Korea/2013
Format Viewed for Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...a brilliant mystery film with some shortcomings."

Fifteen years after a kidnapping case ends in tragedy, a child is kidnapped and held for ransom under similar circumstances.

Montage follows Detective Cheong-ho (Kim Sang-kung) and Ha-kyung (Uhm Jung-hwa). Ha-kyung's daughter was kidnapped and killed fifteen years ago. Ever since then, Cheong-ho has been hunting the kidnapper. However, after the statute of limitations runs out, he is forced to close the case empty-handed. It's not long until another child is kidnapped under suspicious circumstances, though. So, Cheong-ho races to catch the kidnapper while Ha-kyung does the same in her own investigation. There is a lot more to the story—some of it is predictable, some of it is surprising—but I won't spoil anything. Trust me, you want to experience this film without any spoilers. (Avoid the Wikipedia "Plot" section at all costs.) It leads to a great climax and ending.


Montage is a great crime thriller. The plot is engaging, featuring some impressive plot twists. The pieces to the puzzle fall together perfectly to create a beautifully tragic portrait of desperation. It often hops around between past and present and so on, which can make the film feel jarring and disjointed, but that issue is rare. At the same time, that non-chronological storytelling kept the plot on its toes, consequently keeping me on my toes. I wish I could say more about its final act, but it's really something you want to experience with a fresh, untainted mind. Just trust me when I say: it's fantastic. There are a few moments where the film relies heavily on plot contrivances—characters acting stupidly or unable to perform basic tasks—but those don't often hinder the main plot.

Kim Sang-hung, who was also in Memories of Murder, performed well. He didn't over or under-deliver. Uhm Jung-hwa won the Best Actress award at the 50th Grand Bell Awards for this performance. There are times in this film where she is absolutely mesmerizing. During others, I'm afraid to say, I thought she was way overdone—and that's with taking her character's circumstances into consideration. She's still good, but I didn't love her performance. The film was shot well and the music was good. The film was written and directed by Jeong Keun-seob. Jeong masterfully weaves together a twisted mystery without sacrificing character and while pulling strong performances from his cast. His storytelling is a bit rough at times, but it ultimately works out in his favor, allowing him to deliver a thrilling, unpredictable crime film.

Overall, Montage is a great film. It is a brilliant mystery film with some shortcomings. If you're looking for a dark, tragic mystery film, this is for you. If you're a fan of Korean thrillers, you especially don't want to miss this one.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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