I'd been waiting to see Park Chan-wook's latest movie I'm a cyborg but that's OK since I read it had been awarded the Alfred Bauer prize at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival. The prize is for films of particular innovation and is well-deserved. It didn't get a theatrical release over here, so I had to wait until the DVD release.
I'm a cyborg but that's OK is about a girl, Young-goon, who is admitted to a mental hospital because she thinks she is a cyborg. She refuses to eat and instead charges herself with batteries. As her health deteriorates a fellow inmate takes to her and tries to help her in his own way. That is more or less the plot in a few lines. But the plot is not what this movie is about.
So what is it about then? Well, it's about the relationship between a grandmother and her grandchild, it's about the power of the imagination and it is about life. It is about the different strategies people come up with to protect themselves from what Slavoj Zizek, following Lacan, refers to as the Real: anorexia, a flight into fantasy, work, sex, drugs, art and so on.
It is no accident that Young-goon's grandmother tries to tell her the meaning of existence, but that every time she tries, Young-goon cannot hear her. The only answer to this question is, of course, life itself.
I'm a cyborg is yet another highly intelligent movie by Park Chan-wook. It's also a visual treat and in its own special way profoundly moving. If you liked The science of sleep by Michel Gondry you're going to enjoy I'm a cyborg but that's OK as well. Just don't expect another Oldboy.