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Pluto (Myungwangsung)

Film Four Stars
I don't know what the attraction for a film about a student attacking classmates is but I hazard a guess that it's the fact that we never really understand why someone would do such a thing and that when it happens it's such a shocking event, so shocking that it sticks in your mind. So when a film comes along that looks at such events, even fictional ones, it does grab your attention.

Pluto (Myungwangsung) is one of those films and added to the shocking events that are at the core of the story is a conspiracy thriller built around some of the students. There's definitely more to Pluto than you might think than just another film about a student going off the rails.

Plot.pngPluto.jpgThe Edinburgh International Film Festival carries the following plot outline for the film:
"At an elite boarding school, the murder of a top student adds fuel to the rivalry and suspicion among his class. One of the suspects, a boy who has so far failed to break into the coveted ranks of the top ten students, uncovers a frightening conspiracy among his classmates. The poisonous atmosphere at the school erupts in further violence and leads to a hostage situation. A spellbinding thriller."


TheFilm.pngPluto, or Myungwangsung, can't just be judged by its blurb though. Although it does suggest that it is going to be about a school student going crazy and taking it out in violent ways against the other students it isn't, in fact there's a lot more to it than that and there's a lot less of the crazy killer student. In fact it isn't really about that at all and the motivation of the attack is more about revenge on a select group. Pluto is indeed more of a thriller and a far less violent film than you might at first expect.

You have most likely seen shades of this story in other films as the story for Pluto does seem to be a mixture of different types of films and carry influences from a few different areas, but it brings these different elements together well and creates a story that offers us some interesting new twists and views.

Although Pluto feels a little long the story does offer a nicely written script that feels easy to associate with despite the fact that it comes from South Korea and, for me anyway, presents a school life that couldn't be further from the one I ever experienced. However the strong writing allows you to understand and connect with the characters through the injustices and abuse they face, acts which are identifiable as bullying and abuse of power no matter where you are from.

The script and the film build the characters well and offer some interesting turns in the story, and it does feel more like a conspiracy thriller than a film set around a school, in fact it seems to share more with a political thriller than anything else. The elite group with power over the others leans more towards a Western conspiracy thriller, and perhaps that's why it connects so well with the audience, or the fact that it's just done so well.

Saying that the film is so close to a traditional conspiracy thriller doesn't mean that it plays out the way you would expect from such a film. Pluto takes its time and builds the characters and their situations never revealing too much too soon and never leaping into being overly violent and focussing solely on some insane student with a deranged mind. It builds motivation for the events that our leading character turns to, motivations that aren't as simple as insanity but are built believably through the film.

The script, and indeed the film, keeps us focussed on the characters and the story and it never seem to leap too far from them. It keeps the story grounded with a sense of reality through it all with the characters' reactions and decisions feeling honest and relate-able. The characters themselves don't exactly drip emotion but neither do the actors fail to convey the emotion within or the belief for their characters.

It doesn't quite play out the way you expect, not just in the closing of the story-lines but through the film. Where you think it might hit the usual beats of the story it offers something a little different and in places a little extra. The story-line of the students creating their own elite group that they are so willing to protect by any means is an interesting one, especially the twist of what happens when someone drops out. I just wish this had been explored a little more, but then the story had other places to go.

The film isn't just about the script it also offers strong cinematography and style and the lead performers are very good, in fact I would say that there wasn't a poor performance in the film. Da-wit Lee is particularly good in the leading role but it's the entire cast that pull off the performance side of the film, not falling into any traps of playing the standard teenage characters.


Overall.pngPluto (Myungwangsung) offers a strong story and a well written script that builds a strong thriller with a few surprises and twists tucked up its sleeves. It creates and builds characters well making you find empathy with some and shock through others, and it's this focus on the characters and story that gives us such a good film.

The cinematography and style are good throughout the film, as are the performances with the lead particularly engaging, however it is the well written script that takes your attention most of all, building the suspense around what will ultimately happen between the classmates.

The ending is powerful and more emotional than a simple case of revenge from the film you might be expecting, in fact it's fair to say that Pluto as a whole offers more than expectations. I really enjoyed Pluto (Myungwangsung) and would recommend it to all.



More on Edinburgh International Film Festival 2013 on Filmstalker
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Edinburgh International Film Festival Official Site
UK IMDB Film Details

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