WORKPLACE HUNGER GAMES
Kim Byung Gook (Bae Sung Woo) is a meek but hardworking, family man. One day, he returns home from work and murders his entire family and then disappears. Detective Jong Hoon (Park Seong Woong) is assigned to investigate the case and interviews his fellow colleagues at the office. While Intern Lee Mi Rye (Go Ah Sung) seemed to be very close with Section Chief Kim, his other colleagues don’t seem to be very forthcoming with information. After reviewing the CCTV footage at the office, Detective Jong Hoon learns that Section Chief Kim has returned to work after the murders.
I had the opportunity to watch this movie during the NY Korean Film Festival this past Fall and I’m glad I did for a number of reasons. There’s the thriller aspect to the movie that enhanced even more by watching it with a group of people and the movie was followed by a Q&A with the director Hong Won Chan and star Go Ah Sung.
This is the first thing I’ve seen Go Ah Sung in since I last saw her in Heard it Through the Grapevine so I was eager to see what else she could do because I so loved her character in that drama. I did not doubt she was talented but I was glad to see her in a different space. Unlike her savvy character Seo Bom, Mi Rye is withdrawn and meek. The film parallels her character with that of Section Chief Kim to show that it’s not uncommon for a simple and quiet man to suddenly flip the switch on everyone else. That bond is what brings the monster in Section Chief Kim that much more relatable and Mi Rye certainly seems to come across as a sympathetic character.
While Hong Won Chan is known for adapting scripts such as The Chaser and I am a Murderer/Confessions of a Murderer, Office is his directorial debut. For his first time out, I think Hong Won Chan has done a decent job in keeping the audience entertained. He certainly knows how to manipulate the audio or use POV shots to make the audience jump out of their seats. However, I do think the film misses the mark on the point of the bigger picture which I’ll elaborate more on in a moment.
The whole psyche of the film seems to revolve around group and survival mentality within the office climate. We see it as the superiors belittle Mi Rye and Section Chief Kim. Chief Kim Sang Kyu (Kim Eui Sung) pits his team against each other by complimenting Hong Ji Sun (Ryu Hyun Kyung) while criticizing the other members of the team. It’s survival of the fittest that builds up enough stress within the team members that gives them cause to turn on each other in order to save themselves.
After discussing it with other moviegoers, the film does leave room for interpretation. Some may feel that there’s really one killer at large in the office building. While I prefer to take the opinion that there could be multiple killers. Either way, by the time you reach the end of the film you are either scoffing at the unbelievable plot or you’re feeling a bit unsatisfied by the conclusion. If it’s the latter, I felt that even if the story was meant to leave you feeling uneasy and unresolved, all I was left with was the feeling of confusion due to the plot holes.