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[Herald Review] ‘I Haven’t Done Anything’ a viral-chasing, fast-paced mystery comedy
Director's debut a fast-paced romp with layers of slapstick, ironyBy Kevin Lee Selzer
Published : July 11, 2023 - 18:55
A blistering 80-minute comedy made for the digital age, in which there seems to be no greater goal than going viral, “I Haven’t Done Anything” comes to the big screen this week after premiering at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival on June 30.
The film begins with a YouTube-style video documentary about former child actor Oh Tae-kyung, better known as “Little Oh Dae-su” for his role as the younger version of Choi Min-sik‘s character in “Oldboy” (2003). Oh stars as himself.
The comedy continues in a “screen within the screen” format, primarily through YouTube videos and livestreaming, as well as occasional traditional broadcast media. It presents a take on the “found footage” genre where the footage is not so much found as it is desperately seeking attention.
Now nearly two decades later and with a lackluster showbiz career, Tae-kyung seeks to reinvent himself -- from an actor to an online personality who calls himself the "viewers’ slave," willing to do whatever viewers request to drive up subscription numbers.
“I Haven’t Done Anything” is Park Sang-min’s directorial debut. He previously co-wrote 2018’s “Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum,” a horror flick that similarly centered on livestreamers seeking online popularity.
As Tae-kyung’s burgeoning YouTube career starts to gain momentum, a viewer offers a princely sum for the mission of finding out why every day from morning to night a man stands in Cheonggye Plaza in Seoul with a sign that reads, “I Haven’t Done Anything.” The task seems easy enough, but is complicated in that the man who stands there every day never says a word.
Frustrated by the prospect of being unable to satisfy his growing online community, Tae-kyung spends every moment in the plaza watching the man – with the camera rolling – and produces a series of speculation-filled videos, much in the once-popular true crime investigation genre.
With more and more eyes on him, Tae-kyung experiences the entire gamut of online celebrity life cycle: burgeoning success, explosive popularity that enters the mainstream, scandal, getting "canceled" and the ever-ubiquitous YouTube apology video.
In the process, “I Haven’t Done Anything” delves into themes of the authenticity and meaning behind virality, fame and celebrity, while itself aiming to go viral. A plethora of cameos in the film include real-life YouTube personalities such as Joshua Carrott of Korean Englishman, local broadcasters and TV journalists as well as cinema heavyweights Park Chan-wook and Moon So-ri.
“I Haven’t Done Anything” is a funny, fast-paced romp infused with layers of slapstick comedic timing and irony, but it also has a mystery at its core that keeps the plot moving as it swiftly navigates through twists and turns. It admirably melds together styles from viral video-making, livestreaming and TV news magazines, even down to the all-too-familiar unskippable ads.
“I Haven’t Done Anything” is in theaters nationwide from Wednesday.
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