The sophomore feature from provocative South Korean animator Yeon Sang-ho (The King of Pigs) is a blistering critique of organized religion, set in a rural village where a manipulative church minister schemes to defraud his flock.
Gifted South Korean animator Yeon Sang-ho follows his acclaimed and controversial first feature, The King of Pigs, with another blistering provocation. Where that film decried his country's culture of bullying and class stratification, this one sets its sights on the hypocrisies of organized religion. But this is not a restrained critique in the mould of Lee Chang-dong's Secret Sunshine — The Fake pulls no punches, portraying a beleaguered community in thrall to a ministry whose moral bankruptcy knows no limits.
With their municipality under threat from a menace of suitably biblical portent — it is scheduled to be flooded to make way for the construction of a hydro dam — the devout denizens of a rural village have placed their faith in Choi, a church elder who has promised to relocate to the flock to a new housing development. Behind his guise of devotion, however, Choi is a practiced con man; his true aim is to defraud the villagers of their resettlement compensation. The only obstacle to the scheme is Min-chul, a skeptical outcast who discovers evidence of Choi's past misdeeds. But Min-chul himself is hardly a saint, and when his attempts to expose Choi to the authorities fall on deaf ears, he makes a fateful decision to take matters into his own hands.
As well as a scathing social polemic, The
Fake is a fascinating portrait of a deeply
unsympathetic protagonist whose pursuit
of truth aims to serve his own deplorable
ends. Yeon here consolidates his status as
a purveyor of mature, sophisticated animated
narratives with a sophomore feature
that is every bit as uncompromising as his
debut, and that will no doubt prove to be
just as divisive.