Directed & written by Chang Yoon-hyun
In common with Seven, H, and Memories of Murder, this South Korean film is a psychological thriller in which a jaded cop tracks what seems to be an unstoppable serial killer. The paradox of Tell Me Something is: the closer the primary detective comes to solving the case, the more his personal flaws undermine his ability to distinguish the truth among the evidence. In this way filmmaker Chang Yoon-hyun sets up a game of cat and mouse between killer and cop, but also between hero and audience. We see what is at stake for the engaging hero. We also see when and why his reason fails him.
During a summer of intense heat and torrential rain, body parts begin to turn up in black plastic bags all over Seoul: in a crowded elevator, on a basketball court, on a highway. The police team established to solve the case is led by Detective Cho (Han Suk-gyu). Humiliated and tainted by a previous case, and viewed skeptically by his fellow officers, Cho immediately invests too much in this opportunity to redeem himself. Fortunately he has help from another seasoned detective.
Together the two cops rearrange the mismatched body parts and apply all of their experience to unraveling the apparently motiveless murders. Just when they seem to be at a dead end, they conduct a routine interview with a fragile yet attractive young woman, a visual artist, and discover an extraordinary coincidence linking the victims.
Exquisitely shot, well acted, and haunting in its depiction of human frailty, Tell Me Something takes a few turns that challenge suspension of disbelief. Yet it works, because it is both visually stunning and satisfyingly visceral. This is a film for a rainy night when you feel like giving yourself over to a dark, relentless story that could never happen, but, hey, what's that sound on the stairs? No, you go check.
(originally published S. P. Miskowski 11/2/07 12:25 p.m.)