A Taxi of Coldness (2017) by Kim Joon-ha

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“They have not yet invented a telephone capable of sending odors”

It seems that every country has cautionary tales, usually passed down from mothers to children. The fortified drink, eating before bathing, taking a shower with the water heater on, falling asleep on the bus and waking up in the most dangerous neighborhood in town and many more, seem to linger somewhere between freak accidents, urban legends and reality. Kim Joon-ha is inspired by a Korean, where a taxi driver drugs his victims with gum, to present a 20-minute short film that oscillates between thriller and comedy.

Seung-hoon is rather drunk and so decides to take a cab home, even joking with his girlfriend about the fact. His driver is a middle-aged man, encouraging a cross in his mirror, who almost immediately after entering, offers gum to Seung-hoon, kicking a memory of his mother telling him what happened. to a friend’s daughter who took gum from a taxi driver. Seung-hoon declines and a rather intense game of can-and-mouse begins, where it’s hard to figure out if the taxi driver is actually a predator or if it’s all from the mind of a drunken man. As Seung-hoon begins to rationalize the whole thing, his ridiculousness comes to the fore, but at the same time, something continues to feel wrong, with the ending, in fact presented only by sound and voices during the end credits, offering a totally unexpected response.

Kim Joon-ha makes a very interesting film, especially in the way it combines comedy and thriller. The flashback with Seung-hoon’s mother, where Oh Mi-nae gives a truly memorable performance, and his rationalization regarding the mentioned “urban legends” point to the first path, while the constant sense of danger emitted from the passive behavior – aggressive taxi driver heading for the second. At the same time, the rapport between the two leads also benefits the film to the fullest, adding to the feeling that something is wrong, with the performances and chemistry of Baik Seung-hoon in the namesake role and Maeng Bong-hang as the taxi driver being among the film’s best traits.

Also note how Kim gives a film that takes place mostly exclusively inside the cramped space of a taxi a sense of movement, with well-placed flashbacks, the almost constant change of person in focus and a number of interesting montages. , courtesy of editor Sim Min-young, and the way the story unfolds being the primary supports for this trait. Kim Jung-woo’s cinematography also makes the most of the “single location”, while the picture quality here, as usual in Korean productions even in short films, is top notch, which definitely makes the movie easier to watch.

The ending is also quite appealing, but at the same time it would have been more interesting had it been presented visually instead of just being heard, even if its impact isn’t significantly dulled by that choice.

“A Taxi of Coldness” is a very seductive film, which manages to make the most of its small running time to poke fun at urban legends and cautionary tales, while entertaining its audience throughout.

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