Driving With My Wife’s Lover (2006)

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First time Korean director Kim Tae Sik produced an absolute gem of a debut, with his 2006 black comedy Driving With My Wife’s Lover. The storyline details the bizarre exploits of Kim Tae Han (Park), a neurotic nerdy stamp maker from the seaside town of Naksan who is straight laced, anally retentive and dull. Tae Han is devastated to learn that his wife of five years Eun Soo (Kim) is cheating on him with Park Joong Sik (Jung), a sleazy cab driver from Seoul.

Tae Han sets out in purposeful pursuit of Joong Sik, by posing as a customer who needs a long distance taxi ride back to his home town. The journey is prolonged due to the car breaking down on route and through many other comedic mishaps. A stamp bearing the word “fuck” is shown at the beginning of the film as Tae Han narrates his predicament stating: “I really think my wife’s cheating on me” effortlessly establishing the off the wall tone of what is to come.

Tae Han is hilariously compared to a caged rooster, any time he wants to aggressively confront Joong Sik, but only does so in imaginary scenarios until the conclusion. The countrified background score also reiterates Tae Han’s lack of worldliness in Seoul. In stark contrast, city slicker Joong Sik is painted as an outrageous opportunist with sex, who frequently dresses up his distasteful womanising as “love” and proclaims the concept of monogamy to be “sheer torture”

In a bedroom scene with Eun Soo it is obvious that Joong Sik deludes himself that he is a porn star who would also like to be the woman in order to experience his own performance! He also narcissistically struts around naked assuming ridiculous kung fu poses while skinny dipping in a lake. Plus Tae Han checks out how well endowed Joong Sik is while the two pee together at the side of the road.

During the journey Tae Han looks down his nose at Joong Sik’s manner with women, as he witnesses first hand the driver dig his own grave by shamelessly bragging about his dalliances with Eun Soo and even visits prostitutes with Tae Han footing the bill! Much to the chagrin of Tae Han’s assigned woman the pair never go further than kissing.

The tables are amusingly turned on the arrogant Joong Sik when Tae Han steals his cab and goes back to Seoul in a fit of rage. While there he meets Joong Sik’s long suffering girlfriend So Ok (Jo) in a bar and after one too many glasses of Soju, in the film’s funniest scene she sings tuneless karaoke while Tae Han throws awkward shapes on the dance floor. Events then unfold in a deliciously ironic way, Tae Han’s revenge is complete!

The interplay between the late Park and Jung is nothing short of magical, but the film is intended for mature audiences only as it is full of nudity and profanity. A truly unmissable comedy for those who appreciate broad humour.

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