‘Merciless’ receives rave reviews, lengthy standing ovation at Cannes

By Rumy Doo
  • Published : May 25, 2017 - 13:53
  • Updated : May 25, 2017 - 13:53

“The Merciless (Bulhandang)” met with an avid response at the Cannes Film Festival’s midnight screening Thursday, receiving a seven-minute standing ovation from the audience, according to reports.

It was the longest duration of applause that a Korean film had received at Cannes this year, reports said.

Hong Sang-soo’s “The Day After,” “Claire’s Camera” and Jung Byung-gil’s “The Villainess” received applause that ranged from two to five minutes. Bong Joon-ho’s Okja met with applause that lasted five minutes.

International critics also heaped praise on “The Merciless.”

The audience’s responses were heated to the point of record-breaking, Cannes film fest’s general delegate Thierry Fremaux reportedly said after the screening. “It was a very successful midnight screening,” he added.

An executive from Finnish distributor Fidalgo said the film’s opening scene featuring two men talking about fish captivated the audience straight away. “The non-sequential, innovative editing and fresh dialogue makes you immersed in the two (main characters’) relationship.”

Kabata Keizo of Japanese film distributor Twin called the work “the best crime film from Korea in the past several years. The dense suspense film dealing with ‘duty and betrayal’ will strongly appeal to Japanese audiences. I have no doubt that Im Si-wan will become a famed Korean actor in Japan,” Kabata said.

A scene from “The Merciless” features Im Si-wan (left) and Seol Kyung-gu. (CJ Entertainment)

The film’s director Byun Sung-hyun was not present at the festival as a sign of respect for public opinion after a scandal surrounding his past misogynistic tweets broke out this week.

Its actors Seol Kyung-gu, who was at Cannes 17 years ago for “Peppermint Candy,” Im Si-wan and Kim Hee-won smiled and waved at the enthusiastic crowd, showing tears, reports said.

Director Park Chan-wook, a jury member judging competing films this year, also attended the screening and congratulated the actors.

“The Merciless,” a noir crime film about trust and betrayal, was sold to some 117 countries including France, India, Japan and the UK, according to its distributor CJ Entertainment.

By Rumy Doo and news reports (doo@heraldcorp.com)