Dr Khusi Pattanayak
I watch movies because I love the visual form of story-telling. As simple as that. So, when Somebody (Korean, 2022) popped-up in suggestions and claimed to be thriller I started watching. But I was soon disenchanted. Somebody felt like watching a beautiful surrealist painting; enticing but weird.
Though the slow pace of the series (coupled with no obvious action) had left me disappointed I continued watching (instead of abandoning) because of the stunning visual experience. As a minimalist lover, and a photographer, I couldn’t take my eyes off those negative spaces, clean lines, play of light and shadow, powerful composition, and most importantly simple yet memorable frames.
But cinematography is not the reason why I decided to write about this series. I am writing about Somebody because of its authentic portrayal of urban loneliness and the bizarre yet interesting climax. I have always felt creators from far-east Asia have a certain way of portraying loneliness that is very personal, deeply unsettling yet poetic (think Wong Kar-wai or Haruki Murakami). Jung Ji-woo’s series gives a similar feel. The predator (killer) in the series preys on the gullible (women) by using their loneliness as a bait to bring himself closer to them. The deep desire for human contact makes people fall for the unknown faces that they meet online; and then all hell breaks loose.
Once stung by the reality of the diabolical situation there is no going back; its kill or get killed (as in the case of Somebody). That’s how Kim Sum decides to get rid of Sung Yun-oh. This brings us to the climax which feels like a celebration of macabre which is eerily similar to the opening shot of Luis Bunuel’s avant-garde film Un Chien Andalou (1929). I won’t get into further details, lest you are planning to watch the series.
At the center lies a love story. But Somebody is not about romance. It stays away from stereotypes. It is not like conventional Korean drama which ends with a handholding or a kiss; it is littered with erotic scenes. Somebody has lesbian characters and disabled cops who are central to the main plot; quite a departure from the mainstream K-dramas.
Somebody is a modern-day retelling of ‘don’t talk to strangers’ warning. Its take on the functioning of dark twisted human minds did not need 8 episodes to explain itself. A 1.30 hours movie would have been sufficient and impactful. On second thoughts, the characters probably got what they deserved (not victim shaming or anything) because more often than not they behaved irrationally and seemed to lack any kind of common sense.
Somebody is a reminder that just artistic frames, good performances and a decent premise is not sufficient to pull off a series, you need to add pace, action, thrill too!
If you are blessed with patience who likes slow burning thrillers that have a pinch of existential crisis, then you can watch Somebody on Netflix.
(The author is an internationally published writer & corporate communication specialist. Views are personal)