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Pluto is a story of the extremes elite high school seniors are prepared to go to guarantee entry into prestigious universities, and asks what could possibly turn an innocent boy into a monster. June, a transfer student into an elite school, is driven to despair by the year's first examination results. One day he discovers that a mysterious clique of fellow students are sharing secret notebooks, which contain important exam information. In order to get his hands on the notebooks he begs the members of the secret circle to include him. They task him with a series of missions to earn them, turning June into a monster in the process.Written by
A dark tale of bullying and peer group pressure, but one well told
Film4 did well by showing a double bill of this with THE KING OF PIGS, a similar South Korean story of high school bullying, albeit an animated one. PLUTO seems to be a rather overlooked film judging by the lack of reviews and commentary about it on the Internet; that's a shame, because it also happens to be very good. Yes, it's long and slow, but it's never less than quietly gripping with plenty of great cinematic moments.
The plot is complex and non-linear and requires the viewer's complete attention to make sense of what's going on. It begins with some harrowing filmed footage before moving into a typical police procedural murder investigation with an obvious suspect. However, the majority of the storyline then plays out in flashback as we build up to the crime and see the reasons for it.
As is the norm for Korean cinema, PLUTO is a very well crafted production with exemplary direction and high class acting throughout. It's also an entirely dark film that plumbs the depths of human life and explores topics including bullying, stress, suicide, peer group pressure, and plenty more besides. The performances from Da-wit Lee and in particular Sung-Jun are really impressive with the latter underplaying it for all his worth. I'd recommend it for all fans of edgy, mature, international film-making.
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