By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
If you’re watching a Korean murder mystery, then you should already know what you’re in for. No straightforward, un-soul-scorching slick Hollywood crap here.
Nope, The Truth Beneath proudly upholds the tradition of going as fucked up as possible. The often misbehaving daughter from a political family goes missing on the eve of an election, forcing her parents to make some terrible choice about how to damage control while still searching for her. As her mother (Son Ye-jin) delves further into the past of a daughter she barely knew, things get way more messed up from there.
This film really goes for that messed up sweet spot with gusto- you will not be bored following its twists, turns, and stunning revelations. The script’s toxic mix of politics and family dynamics, current ambitions and past indiscretions, almost feels like something that could factor into House of Cards pretty nicely someday.
You know Frank Underwood could do something with that.
Son delivers a nice performance at the center of all the craziness- a woman coming to terms with how little she understood her daughter and sinking into desperation and bitterness the longer she is missing. Director Lee Kyoung-mi also delivers a finely polished film, with some neat freeze frame in motion tricks (you’ll know it when you see it) and even a frantic shaman scene that recalls that virtuosic witchcraft montage in The Wailing.
There are a few supernatural-leaning scenes that aren’t really incorporated very well into what’s otherwise a film seemingly committed to realism. The hypnotism scene in particular seems an unnecessary plot shortcut, even if it is a bit cool in its execution.
The final twist or three of many really takes things too far. When you realize how far these characters have come and how deeply they’ve sunk into villainy at what motivation, it’s really hard to reconcile. It’s the Scandal approach- if you keep your audience gasping, maybe they’ll miss how little of this adds up over time.
“I am your Mother and your Father, and I murdered them both!”
The Truth Beneath is another nicely fucked up Korean murder drama with a bit too much commitment to twist-driven storytelling.
The Truth Beneath (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for campaign posters
Take a Drink: for new evidence
Take a Drink: for hacking
Take a Drink: for flashbacks
Do a Shot: for dress-shirt jogging