Here is a strange movie. Rolling Home With A Bull tells the story of an amateur poet in South Korea who works on his family’s farm. One day, he takes his bull to market but is unable to sell it at the price he wants. Seon-ho gets a call from Lee Hyeon-su, his former lover who married his best friend, seven years ago. Hyeon-su tells him that her significant other is dead and asks him to attend the funeral – which he does, with his bull. The cow is a Buddhist symbol of enlightenment. Although Sun-ho wants to get rid of his bull, it transpires that the real beast of burden in his life is his inability to let go of the past and move on.
Offering a style that cannot be found outside of Korean cinema, the movie’s strongest element is the requiem for old times and past friendships. As director Lim told reporters at a press screening for the film late last month, the journey of the three companions was inspired by the concept of a Buddhist pilgrimage to find one’s self. The film is based on the Korean novel of the same title. She also brings to the screen unspoiled rural vistas of Korea which are breathtaking. It has been receiving some buzz after being invited to the upcoming 15th Pusan International Film Festival in the Gala Presentation category. This film get major points for originality. Although, am I the only who flinched when I saw the bull? I mean, I guess it’s common practice, but I can’t imagine being pulled around by a ring through my nose.
I know this won’t go over well with the animal rights crowd, but keep in mind that they are animals and driven by instinct. I know having a ring in a bull’s nose has saved the lives of countless people, and in my memory three times it has saved the life of the bull itself and/or other livestock on the ranch. Cows are still driven by instinct, even though they are domesticated animals. The willowy 29-year-old actress started her career 12 years ago as a model, but after turning in strong performances in various roles, she quickly gained attention as a serious actress. Additionally, the actor is good as well. As life displays its ups and downs, the main character ends up being locked away by the police after his father reports him as a thief. Ouch.
In conclusion, all the different moods along the way do tend to end up being corny. Rolling Home with a Bull certainly needs time to get loose on his way to unfold and to let his characters breathe, but a quarter of an hour less would have solved that problem. But, given that point, there are plenty of amusing moments en route to its conclusion. Afterwards, when the bull feels unwell and Seon-ho’s van breaks down, the two are thrown together, igniting old passions and resentments as they journey on with the bull towards Seoul. Yim’s work is easier on the audience compared to other directors, in his straightforward and friendly manner at all times, which in the end makes for subtle viewing. Few filmmakers make the jump from the Independent Cinema Bluckbuster within-a few years, and I think we haven’t seen even close, the best this director can accomplish.