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‘The Shameless’ gears up for Cannes

“The Shameless,” a new film from director Oh Seung-uk starring Jeon Do-yeon and Kim Nam-gil, is described by its filmmakers as a “hardboiled melodrama-romance.”

As one of the official selections invited to the sidebar “Un Certain Regard” competition of the 68th Cannes Film Festival, the film has been stoking curiosity about how Oh would bring together the seemingly antithetical genres of hardboiled and romance.

“In terms of genre, the movie is closer to romance,” Oh said at a press conference at CGV Apgujeong in Seoul on Thursday. “I used the word ‘hardboiled’ to describe the attitude that the characters had toward life.”

Jeon Do-yeon and Kim Nam-gil in “The Shameless” (CGV Arthouse)
Jeon Do-yeon and Kim Nam-gil in “The Shameless” (CGV Arthouse)

The movie is a love story between Jung Jae-gon (Kim Nam-gil), a detective who goes to any length to close his cases, and Kim Hye-kyung (Jeon Do-yeon), a bar girl who is also the lover of Jung’s latest suspect. He goes undercover at her bar, hoping she will lead him to his suspect ― but ends up falling in love with her.

According to Oh, the characters played by Jeon and Kim were “hardboiled” and “shameless” in that they did not tie themselves down to conventions of morality or ethics. “When they want something, they’ll do whatever it takes,” he said. “This kind of mindset is rough and tough. I thought it was the best frame for depicting the characters’ pain.”

“Hye-kyung is a character that knows all too well what she must do to survive,” said Jeon about her character. “When I first read the script, I thought she was a woman who believed in neither hope nor love, but with each scene we filmed, I realized she dreams more than anyone of love, of being safe with someone.”

“I was drawn to Jae-gon because he didn’t think he was shameless, but everyone else did,” said Kim. “Instead of emphasizing the tough detective character, I wanted to be as natural as possible.”

“In the end, I think that we can all be shameless, when needed,” Kim added. “I hope the movie will inspire people to think about their core identity, about how they can also be shameless.”

“The Shameless” is one of three Korean films invited to the Cannes Film Festival, which runs this year from May 13-24. The other films include “Madonna,” directed by Shin Su-won, in the “Un Certain Regard” category and Hong Won-chan’s “Office” in “Midnight Screenings.”

Shin’s “Madonna” stars Seo Yeong-hee, who plays a medical assistant who is convinced by the son of a wealthy heart transplant candidate to arrange an organ transplant and discovers shocking secrets about her patients’ past. Meanwhile, Hong’s thriller “Office” follows the mysterious deaths that occur in an office after one of its employees murders his entire family.

“The Shameless” will open in local theaters on May 27.

By Won Ho-jung (
Korea Herald daum