Concrete Utopia: Movie Review

Concrete Utopia Movie Review: Quirky and Compelling Disaster Drama

Watch Parasite (2019) another Academy Awards entry for South Korea right now:

The revelation that "Concrete Utopia" had been chosen as South Korea's official entry to the 96th Academy Awards left us intrigued. Never in our wildest dreams had we imagined a disaster film securing such a prestigious nod. Given South Korea's track record of producing exceptional cinematic content, especially with hits like "Parasite", our expectations for "Concrete Utopia" were sky-high. And to our delight, the film match them easily.

Set in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that has reduced Seoul to rubble, only one apartment building, Hwang Gung Apartments, stands. Its residents, believing themselves to be special, embark on a journey of reconstruction. Along the way, their community confront internal and external dilemmas that challenge their very humanity.

"Concrete Utopia" begins as a dark comedy but gradually morphs into a gripping dramatic thriller. The film's premise is compelling, delving deep into the themes of human desperation and survival. It's a riveting portrayal of how a close-knit community evolves, or perhaps devolves, in the face of catastrophe. You can say that it provides a look at the process through which cults or dictators (or both) can emerge. In terms of performances, the movie boasts an impressive cast and while the entire ensemble delivers solid acting, it's the veteran actor Lee Byung-hun who steals the spotlight with his compelling and well-rounded portrayal as the leader of the community. Park Seo-joon delivers an equally strong performance, making him a close second. However, the film's Achilles' heel lies in its predictability. It often treads familiar narrative beats, offering very few surprises along the way. Nevertheless, "Concrete Utopia" manages to captivate with its dark comedy, drama, and thought-provoking content and despite its shortcomings, it remains a compelling cinematic experience regardless.

Rating: 4 reels

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