Chihwaseon (image 1)

A racy, frequently funny and finally moving semi-fictional portrait of unconventional Korean master-painter Ohwon.

Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound

Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Chihwaseon 2002

Directed by Im Kwon-taek

Korea In Korean with English subtitles
119 minutes 35mm

Director

Producer

Lee Tae-won

Screenplay

Kim Young-oak, Im Kwon-taek. Based on a story by Min Byung-sam

Photography

Jung Il-sung

Editor

Park Soon-duk

Music

Kim Young-dong

With

Choi Min-sik (Jang Seung-up)
,
Ahn Sung-ki (Kim Byung-moon)
,
You Ho-jeong (Mae-hyang)
,
Kim Yeo-jin (Jin-hong)
,
Son Ye-jin (So-woon)
,
Han Myoung-gu (Lee Eung-heon)

Festivals

Cannes (In Competition), Toronto, New York, Pusan 2002; Rotterdam 2003

Awards

Best Director (Shared), Cannes 2002

Elsewhere

Korean director Im Kwon-taek (Chunhyang, Sopyonje) recounts the life and rollicking hard times of one of his country’s most celebrated painters, Jang Seung-ub, known as Ohwon. Born into poverty, Ohwon painted his way to the heights of 19th century Korean society while indulging a voracious appetite for liquor and women. Imbued with its subject’s lust for life, Chihwaseon revels in tableaux of nature’s abundance – and spectacular period recreation.

“This is a portrait of the artist in the bourgeois outcast vein… but set in a triumphantly major key. Jang, played with a pleasing mixture of unkempt swagger and puppy-dog charm by Choi Min-sik, is a naturally gifted painter who is barely on speaking terms with society… Im’s film has a fairly conventional structure, encompassing adolescent apprenticeship, glorious middle age, and obscure old age, against a background of political upheaval and the search for a perfect woman. But the director revitalizes the biopic form by keeping everything fast, supple, pliant. Just like one of the artist’s paintings, Chihwaseon is a dynamic swirl of forms observed with a passionate eye.” — Kent Jones, Film Comment 

“Mr Im’s own aesthetic command is evident in the movie’s wealth of beautiful, perfectly framed images of nature – shots so full of passion and perception that they could almost be paintings themselves.” — A.O. Scott, NY Times