Movie Review: Rough Play (2013)
I had already enjoyed Rough Cut where Kang Ji Hwan and So Ji Sub shone in their lethal bromance. As for Rough Play, it felt essential watching it since the highly acclaimed director/screenwriter/producer Kim Ki Duk himself entrusted the leading role to Lee Joon, a fairly new actor at that time. It’s not that many years have passed since Rough Play, Lee Joon is still young in the field of acting. However, we’ve already witnessed his multifaceted acting capabilities in full grandeur throughout Gap Dong as Ryu Tae Oh and Mr. Back as Choi Dae Han and he’s currently partaking in Heard It Through the Grapevine‘s golden yet gloomy world as Han In Sang. I haven’t invested in his supporting roles or guest appearances prior to Rough Play yet, but having watched this movie i can see why Lee Joon’s acting opportunities after Rough Play broadened and along with them his acting horizons; apparently.
Oh Young (Lee Joon) is a young actor full of intensity and pathos diving inside his roles as if they were a part of reality itself. His difficult and bold yet passionate character was often putting him into trouble. He used to perform in various plays presented at a small theater, but he also had his chances in appearing in movies as a minor supporting role. One day manager Kim Jang Ho (Seo Bum Suk) notices Oh Young’s talent and sees through his potential to become a leading figure in the filming industry. Along with Oh Young’s rise it will be Jang Ho’s chance to rise anew, but Oh Young’s integrity of character sets the basis and prevents himself from moving in the shadows where actors and actresses are being born and vanish in a blink of an eye.
His secondary supporting role transforms into a secondary leading character where he plays alongside the renowned actor Kang Bin (Yang Dong Geun) and soon enough his star starts to shine. One movie after the other his career is skyrocketing and along with it Oh Young’s integrity and boldness surrender as he gradually finds himself inside a cesspool of corruption where morals don’t matter anymore. Fame and money can ruin one’s conscience and Oh Young couldn’t avoid partaking in that dreadful circus where souls wander in the murk. You shine as long as you are needed and the more you slip the more you start draining away into obscurity without taking into consideration the warning signs, whether they are people you’ve met before and witnessed their decline or current events that try to pull you backwards.
Rough Play is a darkening journey into the vicious world of filming industry’s most shady aspects. Underneath one’s stardom status fields of stench may blossom and the more the flashes shine alight at your presence the more depraved you may get and then the journey could possibly reach the point of no return. Oh Young is fragile and a broken figure and the more he dwells in the vast waters of fame the more he declines on an ongoing journey d(r)ownwards. It’s not only about what you accomplish, it’s also about how you preserve your present and how your insight stares at the future.
Oh Young’s sudden fame overshadowed his horizon and held him captive at the present with the root leading backwards. As time passes by he becomes a shadow of himself and people around him don’t recognize him anymore as he loses himself in lust, fame, arrogance and alcohol hallucinating in the fake contours of stardom status that is no other than one’s most sickening essence. His lifestyle embraces the night and along with it its darkest aspects as people moving in the background interfere severely with his dreams which are being pushed away by his own blinded self. Whenever he’s alone solitude seems to be devouring him as he’s unable to maintain the fast forward life he’s leading.
The cinematography is usually evoking a darkening aesthetic and paces perfectly well with the movie’s overall ambiance and Oh Young’s psyche, but it doesn’t rely on the dark side all the time and visualizes various aspects of his daily life in a representative way. Scenario-wise i enjoyed Rough Play for the most part of it since it was delivering all the necessary weight upon the main figure without neglecting the secondary characters that were playing their own part in Oh Young’s progress and the process of the storyline. I couldn’t always pace with the artsy back and forth leaps throughout the story, but in the end you get the whole picture as the movie reaches completion and suddenly everything starts making perfect sense.
Lee Joon is one of the most representative young actors and he doesn’t rely on his good looks to keep glowing and progressing. It’s his acting and the fact that his face is like play dough, he forms it in any way he wants to according to his role and always manages to breathe life into each and every figure that manages to cross his acting path. He’s presenting a wide variety of emotions from utter lunacy to immense bliss or fierce internal struggle and from the emotionless grey to a colorful explosion of pretty much everything. In a way Lee Joon resembles Oh Young, they share the same passion for acting and both of them pour their souls into their roles; with one vast difference. Lee Joon wasn’t distorted by his rising fame and the sickening self he portrays always remains within the boundaries of the characters he depicts (Oh Young, Ryu Tae Oh). On the contrary, Oh Young’s reality was always interfering with his acting and when his acting rose to immense heights it became his reality and he got devoured by the vortex he steadily forged on his own through reality’s absence.
Rough Play is what the title stands for, it’s raw and sets sail on the dark side of life when the flashes are on but also when the crowds are gone without setting aside the intermediate steps that were responsible for everything that blossomed or withered. Sometimes you need to talk to a mannequin in order to find your way back home for home is where the heart should be. A mannequin is no other than yourself and works as a mirror without reflection. Its faceless expression portrays the stagnant waters that were never meant to be still, but were shaken violently instead of flowing with bliss; “i want to go back.”
“It was desire, not love.”