POSSESSION
- with Sarah Michelle Gellar as Jessica Shelburn

REVIEW: ADDICTED (Jungdok)

DVD cover for Addicted (Jungdok) Directed by: Young-hoon Park

Written by: Won-mi Byun

Starring:
Byung-hun Lee as Dae-jin (younger bro)
Mi-yeon Lee as Eun-soon
Eol Lee as Ho-jin (older bro)

Release date: 18 October 2002 (South Korea)

Jungdok translates into English as "Deep Sorrow". The younger brother refers to himself as "addicted" in reference to his auto racing, and someone decided that this was important enough to become the title of the US release.

You see, in the South Korean version of the story, the younger bro is not an ex-con, he's an ex-Marine with a penchant for racing cars. He is never a threatening character. Also unlike in Possession, the younger bro never actually had a relationship with Eun-soon (Jessica's Korean counterpart) outside of his own mind prior to big bro's death. So instead of wondering whether it might be safe to cohabit with the surviving brother, Eun-soon wonders in the end whether it makes any difference that her new lover lied to her to get her in bed.

I liked this version a lot better than Possession, even better than Possession with the alternate ending.

Since I have never been to South Korea, one of the most interesting things about watching this film was the insight it gave into the culture of that country. I saw many beer cans in this film. All were Budwiser, and one must wonder why, if Koreans are drinking imported beer, they would choose Budweiser over beer that actually tastes good. One character crumples a Bud can and tosses it casually into a field. They perhaps do not recycle in Korea.

In the workshop, Eun-Soon finds out the truth by tearing away a Marlboro poster (!) on the wall, behind which is hidden a journal and some photos. The younger bro was a heavy smoker. The older was not, so that poster might have been a giveaway in itself, were it not for the fact that younger bro quit smoking, apparently cold turkey, to pull off his deception. Maybe his medications helped. But, are there not Korean cigarettes?

Really the overwhelming sense is that South Korea is extremely Americanized. The characters live in a house that might be in California. The city scenes could have been shot in New York. The characters drink Budweiser and smoke Marlboros. One other difference is that in hospital, people wear pajamas with tops and bottoms, rather than gowns that are open in the back.

Addicted is a very pretty film. The director likes to frame the important scenes like old paintings, and use color filters for effect and it works. But I am still puzzled by the television in the living room, which is featured prominently in several scenes, is never on, and is aimed at the end of the sofa.

Here is a scene from the film's beginning, which shows the relationships between the three main characters:

Directors:     Simon Sandquist, Joel Bergvall
Producers:     Bob Yari, Nigel Sinclair
Screenplay:     Michael Petroni
Adapted by Jae-yong Gwak from a screenplay
by Won-mi Byun and Min-ho Song
Co-starring:     Lee Pace, Michael Landes
US Release Date:     9 March 2010
Length:     85 minutes
Genre:     Drama
Interesting Character Scale (Jill Robinson=0 Buffy Summers=10}:     six
Best scene for Gellar:    
The final scene in the Alternate Ending.

Lee Pace, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and friends at Pace's house during filming of Possession This is an excellent film, but only if, when you get to the scene (about 49 minutes in) where Lee Pace's character wakes from a bad dream, you stop watching and immediately switch to the alternate ending provided in the Special Features Featurette section. Without the alternate ending, the film makes no sense; Gellar's character makes no sense; and one misses Gellar's best film scene in recent memory.

This was adapted from Jungdok, a Korean film (marketed in the US under the name "Addicted") which, from what I have read, certainly is more consistent with the alternate ending. Here's the premise: Gellar's character (Jessica) marries one of two brothers. She marries the "good" brother, although it is clear from the beginning that "bad" bro and she have feelings for one another. As fate would have it, Bad Bro, who has decided that he is not welcome in house of Good Bro anymore, takes off in his somewhat dilapidated car. Jessica phones Good Bro and tells him this. He heads home immediately. In the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge, the good and the bad collide.

Christy Bella Joiner Both drivers survive but in comas. When Bad Bro wakes up, he professes to have the memories of Good Bro, and to be in love with Jessica.

Most of the backstory must be inferred from a few clues in the dialogue and the emotions of the actors.

It is worth mentioning also that Casey (Tuva Novotny) looks a lot like Gellar's character, although the two are in no way related. She is, in the context of the story, the Bad Jess.

Lee Pace gives a fairly effective performance here as Bad Bro. Gellar is just wonderful, especially if you take my advice about the ending. She made me wish the film was longer. The main problem with the film seems to be the editing. It seems a bit sloppy, and at times the film seems choppy and disjointed, an effect which I doubt was intentional. Most of that problem involves the unfortunate ending which somehow got attached to the main film on the DVD. Someone in the special features talks about the film and asserts that the question it asks is: How far will you go for love? The real question the film asks is: Can you teach an old dog new tricks?. (There is literally an old dog.) The answer to that question also depends on the ending you pick.

NOTES:

Josefina Andersson Michael Landes was Jimmy Olsen in Lois and Clark TNAOS. Paul Jarrett (Psychiatrist) was Mr. Fleming in THE GRUDGE 2 and James Earl Ray in THE X-FILES.

The soundtrack is available from iTunes. The best part of the soundtrack is two tracks by The Stiff Twins, about whom I have been able to find out nothing. The next best part is the song SAVING MY LOVE sung by Josefina Andersson of Waver. Waver is a Swedish duo. (Andersson is from Stora Lappträsk, a small village in the north of Sweden.) All the music for the film was written by Andreas Alfredsson (the other half of Waver) and Christian Sandquist.

Waver I have to mention the DVD cover. It just looks too much like the cover of The Grudge DVD (same production company), and I didn't like that cover much either.

Christy Bella Joiner is uncredtied as a nurse. She also is uncredited as a nurse in VERONICA DECIDES TO DIE, another Gellar film. Joyner is a classical pianist and supermodel as well as being an actor. She will play Charlie's Wife in THIS SIDE OF THE LOOKING GLASS, a film that Sarah Michelle Gellar was at one time in talks to do.

POSSESSION has also been released on DVD in France.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the production company responsible for POSSESSION was ordered to pay three international film distributors more than $6 million for not theatrically releasing POSSESSION and another film, ACCIDENTAL HUSBAND, with Uma Thurman.

GALLERY

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