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Around 20 minutes in, I developed the feeling that I’ve seen this film before…  I still cannot swear on it, but the initial setup looked terribly familiar: a young (and absurdly handsome) guy checking into strangers’ houses while they are away, staying for a while, using all facilities, reading their books, fixing clocks and scales, and then leaving without obvious trace. You wonder how long that can work until he will stumble across somebody to surprise him, and of course this is what happens and what sets the film in motion. He meets a girl, trapped in her house and her life with an abusive and in general psychopathic husband, and the two develop a silent understanding that it might be nice to share some part of the future with somebody who cares a bit and does not talk a lot (the dialogues between the two are astonishingly well written…). They move on together for a while, and there are scenes that indicate that they are just the perfect team of silent loners with human skills (a sequence involving a body and a burial ritual especially).

Needless to say, Korean issues come in: police corruption and violence, in this case, and family violence, but also a certain affection to the spiritual. Kim Ki-Duk manages to give the film a spin towards the latter that could have been laughable in the end, but quite to the contrary is beautiful and touching.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/3_iron

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