The Green Chair is a film that desperately wants to be Real Art about Important Issues that Challenge Society. Unfortunately it is mostly just Very Bad, to the point of being Almost Unwatchable. Actually, that's a little too harsh. The film is actually very well shot, so if you turn off the volume and the subtitles it should be perfectly possible to enjoy it as a succession of images, but as soon as the actors open their mouths it's all over …
The story of a woman in her thirties jailed for statuatory rape after having an affair with a high school aged boy and their continuing relationship upon her release, The Green Chair attracted a lot of attention for its explicit sexuality. Though it avoids genital nudity this is a film that clearly set out intending to push Korea's censorship laws and it has certainly done that. A great deal of flesh is exposed. But is there a point to it all? The film plays so seriously that you'd think the people behind it must have believed there was but the film is so poorly written and executed that I'm hard pressed to find one.
In the early going the film tracks the story from the point of the woman's release from prison with flashes back to explain how the two got involved in the first place. If the film makers had continued on this line, exploring how these culturally taboo relationships occur in the first place, they may have had something to work with, but this approach is quickly abandoned in favor of having the two leads shack up in a hotel and deliver lines like "Let's do it again until we pass out." And that's pretty much all there is. There's zero depth to the characters, no reason to believe that they – or anyone else, for that matter – would have ever found each other attractive, no reason to invest emotionally in their situation. Dialogue is paper thin and very poorly delivered. What ideas there are are muddy and poorly developed. Essentially this is the Red Shoe Diaries without the tongue in cheek, it has all the depth of Zalman King but delivered with enormous pretense. The overwhelming seriousness means that you can't even appreciate this as Bad Film, a la Showgirls.
The DVD Video
The video quality is quite good, the transfer anamorphic, clean and very warm, capturing the saturated colors of the film beautifully. The camera work is really the only good thing about the film and it is well represented here.
The audio is available in two varieties, stereo 2.0 and surround 5.1, both in the original Korean. Optional English subtitles are available, the subs are clearly translated and easy to read. But you really don't want to read them.
The Korean release of this comes as a two disc set, the second disc filled with an hour and a half long behind the scenes / making of video and the trailers for the film. There are no English options on the extras.
It's hard to make sex boring. The Green Chair has done it. Nice to look at but absolutely vacuous. Stay away.