Prepare yourself for a bit of a shock: I am not one of those ladies who gets all excited over shoes. They're just not really my thing in a goo-goo sense. They serve a wonderful function, to be sure; but I tend to look at them as function-servers only, and I wear them until they fall apart...and sometimes longer than that. I mention this not as some weird point of contrarian pride, but rather because I wonder: would my feelings about shoes render me as susceptible to the madness brought on by the red shoes in...umm...The Red Shoes (Korea, 2005)? Would I be all caca-crazy over them like the women in the film are? I guess I might be since they've got the power of the supernatural and not just the power of the pump. Anyway, enough of that conversation with myself.
Oh and by the way, the red shoes are actually pink shoes, which kind of irritated me throughout the whole movie. Perhaps you will not mind. It just seems to me that if your movie is called The Red Shoes and it's based on a fairytale called The Red Shoes, the shoes in question should be red. I would be equally confounded if, say, The Lord of the Rings was actually about One Pair of Pants to Rule Them All, pants sewn in the sweatshop of Mount Doom. It wouldn't make any sense, and nor do the pink "red" shoes.
Sorry...Lord of the Rings is on over in the corner right now and it's distracting me with its so fucking awesomeness. I was thinking about this movie the other day so much so that I had to watch it- I was commenting to a friend that if I had been born a dwarf, I would play up some fantasy shit and I'd insist on traveling in a fellowship and I'd constantly talk about how I was born from the stone and all that- in other words, I would ever irritate the people around me and totally weird them out. The point is, Lord of the fucking Rings, man.
Sun-jae (Hye-su Kim) is a former optometrist-turned-miserable housewife. Her husband bears her no love or respect, her young daughter Tae-su (Yeon-ah Park) is the ultimate daddy's girl and ignores her. When Sun-jae comes home to find her husband humping on some other lady, she packs up her shoe collection and busts a movie out of there, unwilling child in tow.
Yes, her shoe collection, which she displays on an elaborate glass shelving unit. You know, like one might display...oh, I don't know. A Lord of the Rings action figure assortment.
Given how nuts she is about shoes, it comes as no surprise when Sun-jae is totally bewitched by a pair of pink pumps she spies in a subway car. She takes them home and for a while, things are on an upswing- she works to restart her career, she begins an affair with the young man designing her new office, she puts on the pink pumps and feels more attractive than she has in ages. Her daughter becomes equally obsessed with the shoes, however, and the two frequently clash over which of them is the rightful owner...sometimes even coming to blows. When Sun-jae's friend steals the shoes after becoming immediately overtaken with a need to have them, things take a turn for the deadly as the unseen force returns and makes with the...deathening.
Through a series of fairly cheesy flashbacks, we learn- sort of- the reason why the shoes are cursed. It all has to do with women fighting over men, blah blah, jealousy. You know, essentially that wimmins is crazy bitches...and unfortunately, that's what the main plot of The Red Shoes devolves into as well. A very strong first half, centered around a rather compelling character, becomes a lazy, nonsensical second half; horror-tinged drama becomes nothing but a series of the same old tired tropes you've seen in plenty of other Asian genre flicks. It's really too bad- the film gets more disappointing as it loses steam over the course of its run time.
Still, it's not without some bright spots and high points- the cinematography is gorgeous, the set design interesting, and the acting is very strong- particularly that from Hye-su Kim, who has to convey a wide range of emotions as she takes the train from Sadsville to Cuckootown.All in all, the film isn't going to have anyone squealing in delight and placing a copy on their elaborate glass shelving unit, but it serves its function fairly well- sort of like my taped-up Converse.