When Parasite won the Best Film at the 2020 Academy Awards, it became the first non-English language film to perform this feat. However, director Bong Joon-ho has been thrilling audiences for twenty years since his feature debut, Barking Dogs Never Bite. Snowpiercer, Okja, Mother and The Host have wowed festival audiences and indie film fans. However, it’s Memories of Murder which remains his masterpiece.
In 1986, two women are found raped and murdered in a province of South Korea. Local detective Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) struggles to deal with the practicalities and pressures of leading on two major police investigations and so Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung) is drafted in from Seoul to help. When more bodies turn up the pair realise that they’re dealing with a serial killer. As they desperately try and unmask the killer, Park’s more ‘traditional’ methods clash with Seo’s more sophisticated and western approach.
Featuring beautiful cinematography from Hyung Koo Kim, Memories of Murder is up there with Zodiac as the best crime thriller of the 21st century. The two leads deliver pitch-perfect performances, and the supporting cast of misfits impress, but it’s the brilliant screenplay which makes it work so well. There are so many twists and turns along the way which Bong deftly handles. You can feel yourself running alongside the detectives. Memories of Murder is a breathtaking cinematic experience.
Memories of Murder is released in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema on 11 September.