Reviews

Chihwaseon

2

If Pollock and Frida didn't sate your appetite for biopics about iconoclastic artists, you might want to catch this elegant tribute to 19th-century Korean painter Jang Seung-up. Revered in his country to the point that he was posthumously given divine status, 'Oh-won' notoriously derived his inspiration from booze and babes (Chihwaseon translates as Drunk On Women And Poetry), producing his greatest work when he was in his cups. "How can I paint without an erection?" he screams before telling an apprentice: "If you want to paint, first learn to drink."

Living at a time when Korea was being torn apart by its neighbours Japan and China, the conflict between Seung-up's exquisite brushwork and his turbulent life should have made for gripping drama. Instead, the best thing that can be said about helmer Im Kwon-taek's drama is that it looks beautiful. As for content, two hours is a long time to make the elementary point that genius often goes hand-in-hand with a volatile temperament.

Film Details

  • 15
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: June 6th 2003