Alter egos, drugs, psychoanalysis: Cast, director explain eerie charm of ‘Real’

By Rumy Doo

Kim Soo-hyun hopes enigmatic sci-fi-noir will represent his 20s

  • Published : Jun 27, 2017 - 14:36
  • Updated : Jun 27, 2017 - 14:36

Kim Soo-hyun believes that the cryptic sci-fi, action-crime psychological thriller “Real” will become the symbolic project of his 20s.

“Personally, I hope (the film) will be remembered as the representative work of my 20s, the last film of my 20s,” he told reporters after the press screening of “Real” at Seoul’s CGV Wangsimni, Monday.

The 29-year-old actor, who rose to pan-Asian popularity as the extraterrestrial heartthrob in the 2014 drama “My Love From the Stars,” returns to the big screen with the enigmatic fantasy-noir hybrid flick. His last film was the 2013 “Secretly, Greatly.”

The script of “Real” had made a deep imprint in his mind, Kim said. “I couldn’t get it out of my head. I couldn’t sleep. I said to myself, ‘a frightening script has come my way.’”

Kim Soo-hyun stars in “Real” (CJ Entertainment)

In the film, Kim plays the dual role of casino gang boss Jang Tae-young who is suffering from a multiple personality disorder, and his alter ego, a freelance reporter.

Kim gives vigorous performances as the dangerous drug-addicted mobster engaged in a turf war with a rival gang, his eerie doppelganger and a meek reporter investigating the effects of a powerful new drug.

Lee Sung-min plays the ghoulish doctor who psychoanalyzes Jang. Former K-pop singer Sulli, credited with her real name Choi Jin-ri, makes her acting debut as Song Yoo-hwa, a physical therapy expert and Jang’s lover.

The film is the directorial debut of Lee Sa-rang (Love Lee), who said he had wanted to create “a new type of story.” Lee is also Kim‘s cousin and the head of a film production company. 

Kim Soo-hyun, Choi Jin-ri, Jo Woo-jin and director Lee Sa-rang attend the press screening of “Real” at CGV Wangsimni on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

“I wanted to go beyond our everyday feelings and logic. I thought that this type of movie should also exist.”

The film boasts a futuristic setting complete with blazing red neon lights and towering cityscapes, matched with deep, reverberating electronic music and scenes that jumble memories and the subconscious.

The alter egos that Kim plays are “wannabes” of each other, Lee said.

“They both want to be the real thing. But if you ask them what ‘real’ is, I don’t think either of them know.

“When we talk about what is ‘real,’ if felt like faith. Belief that something is real. I didn’t want to pinpoint one correct answer and explain it to viewers.”

Kim, meanwhile, has yet to fulfill his mandatory military obligations.

“The exact timing hasn’t been decided,” he said on his upcoming enlistment and future plans.

“It would be great if I could do one more film or drama before going (to the military).”

Singer-turned-actress Choi said that shooting “Real” has awakened in her a yearning for acting.

“I felt a sense of accomplishment. I wonder if I have ever wanted to do something as much as act,” she said.

Choi, whose edgy social media posts have been raising eyebrows, declined to comment on her personal life.

“Real” hits local theaters Wednesday.

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)