So I just finished watching “Searching for the Elephant and I’m not quite sure how to explain it. I’m not even sure what i even watched. and that is my review – baozisaur on tumblr
I posted that comment from tumblr user baozisaour because it is one of the most common reactions I’ve seen towards this movie, and it also represents mine. If I was asked to describe Searching for the elephant in one word, I would go with CRAZY
I have watched this movie more than once and I have come to realize that I actually “enjoy” it. I’m not going to try to convince anyone that it is “good”. If you read critics you’ll find mixed reviews, but I am no critics so I can only give you my impressions. However, from this moment on, I plead insanity and I shall not be made responsible if by any chance, I end up persuading anyone to watch this. I am convinced that one needs to possess a certain amount of coo-cooness to enjoy this movie
Ok, on to the rambling
First I’d like to say that I find the posters for this movie to be in poor taste and they don’t represent what the movie is like. That is why I didn’t upload them here. This movie is not a porn. It does however contain strong sex scenes at the beginning involving Jo Dong Hyuk, who plays a sex addict. Other than that there is occasional partial nudity, strong language and some violent images (notably a pretty shocking mutilation scene at the beginning, the product of Hyun Woo’s imagination). It is definitely a dark and disturbing movie.
PLOT (from Wikipedia):
A suicidal, pot-smoking photographer with schizophrenic episodes, a sex addicted plastic surgeon with a bad conscience and a secretive financer with legal trouble. These three childhood friends come together to relate common memories, future ambitions and share their deepest secrets. “Searching for the Elephant” is a raw, innovative film that portrays the decadent lives of the successful metropolitan in a cynical world.
This movie has an interesting atmosphere. The plot moves and keeps you interested with constant twists and turns. But the story seems to be told from the point of view of Hyun Woo (Jang Hyuk) a less than trustworthy character. He claims to be a “squizofrenic” first and later on “manic depressive”, he is also addicted to drugs and alcohol. The hallucinations are rampant so in the end, even if he is not the obvious narrator, it does feel like he is the one pulling us into his chaotic world. How do we know what is real and what is not?
I know this will not surprise anyone but Hyun Woo is one the reasons I keep re-watching this. I felt for this character. He is a mess. A hyper sensitive individual living in this cruel cold world, with low self-esteem and vulnerable. His mind escapes constantly (sometimes with the help of a little friend called marihuana) I am fascinated with how much Jang Hyuk nailed this role and his scenes. One of my favorite scenes is one where he gets high and delivers a speech about korean society, obsessed with money, soccer and plastic surgery. It was both kind of hilarious and pathetic and it ended up with him hugging his dog, in total despair.
Hyun Woo has two childhood friends. Min Suk (Jo Dong Hyuk), a plastic surgeon who is married to his sister Soo Yeon (Lee Min Jung), and Jin Hyuk (Lee Sang Woo), a financial specialist, who reunites with his friends after many years. They are well off and successful on the outside but deep down they hide ugly secrets.
Min Suk is a sex addict (It is ironic and almost endearing to see Hyun Woo scolding him for his lack of self control) and Jin Hyuk will do something that will unfold much of the action, so I’d rather not spoil.
The three characters are over grown children, immature, self absorbed and vulnerable. I sympathize most with Hyun Woo because he seems to at least care about people other than himself. Jin Hyuk comes second to me, he is elusive and mysterious, and he makes a huge mistake, but I liked his conversations with Hyun Woo. He was a good friend to him. Min Suk annoyed me for the most part.
The female characters are unfortunately less developed. Soo Yeon is played by Lee Ming Jung. Her character is distant and cold. It is hard for me to feel or understand her, except that she made a good point when she told her brother Hyun Woo that he cares more about his friends, so he practically abandoned her. Her having to fend for herself, is apparently her excuse for being selfish.
The mysterious psychiatrist is played by Hwang Woo Seul Hye. This actress has a peculiar vibe. I have also seen her on Speedy Scandal and she also gave me this impression. In this case she was very well casted because the mysterious Dr is supposed to be “strange”.
A delightfully bizarre love story develops between the Dr and Hyun Woo. There is a scene where Hyun Woo cries devastated after his beloved makes an “out of this world” confession. The dialogue contrasted with the odd soundtrack made me laugh hysterically (I told you I am mad).
THEIR CUTE LOVE SCENES
The cinematography of this movie was beautiful. Defintely on the artsy side, maybe not for everyone but I really enjoyed the aesthetics of it.
And I definitely dig watching Jang Hyuk calling my name desperately
It has an open ending, and that is a good reason why people say “What the hell did I just watch?” so if you absolutely can’t stand open endings, this one might annoy you.
Searching for the elephant also known as Penthouse elephant was written and directed by Jeong Seung-Ku (who co-produced The Chaser)
While researching this movie I found out the upsetting information, that actress Jang Ja-Yeon who played Min Suk lover, took her own life before the movie was released.
The movie is available on Youtube at the moment. Click HERE to watch it
That version has better quality but it does not include my favorite scene (Hyun Woo’s speech and dog hug) Fortunately someone else uploaded it HERE