We watched 28 movies at Korea’s Busan Film Festival this year, and only two of them excited us enough to bring them to New York. One was The Boys Who Cried Wolf; the other, Fourth Place, the new film by A Muse (NYAFF 2013) director Jung Ji-woo. A two-hour drama about a 12-year-old kid, his mom, and his swimming coach sounds like boredom squared, but this flick is a take-no-prisoners examination of winning and losing. Gwang-su (Park Hae-jun), a one-time Olympic swimmer who never lived up to his potential, is now coaching kiddie swim teams. Jin-ho (Yoo Jae-sang, scouted from a school swim team) is his latest victim. Hired by the kid’s Tiger Mom, Gwang-su believes that beating his students is the best way to win. And the more he beats Jin-ho, the better the kid swims. There are no bad guys here. Jin-ho likes finally being a winner, his mom is genuinely terrified that her son won’t be prepared for the real world, and Gwang-su is coaching the same way he was taught: with an iron fist. Whether it’s indulging in a beautiful sequence of a kid swimming alone after dark, or a furious mom is trying to run someone down with the family minivan, Fourth Place is a raw, urgent masterpiece. And we don’t use that word lightly around here. Presented with the support of Korean Cultural Center New York.
This film has no current screenings