South Korean shocker Bedeviled is a tale of two very different women, both from the same idyllic island. Seoul banker Hae-won escaped her beautiful but isolated birthplace to escape to the big city, leaving her childhood friend Bok-nam behind.
Forced to take a vacation, Hae-won finally heads back and realises that she has left Bok-nam to a torturous life of servitude – a plaything for the men and a work horse for the women. She is now desperate to escape and lives life with her friend whom she idolises.
Although Bok-nam pleads, Hae-won is hard and indifferent, ignoring her friend’s plight and not wanting to get involved in the complicated situation or help her out of it. But when Bok-nam loses the only important thing in her life she snaps, leading her down the path of revenge and retribution against everyone who ever did her wrong – including her old friend Hae-won.
Bedeviled is a disturbing and upsetting film where the bright colors and lush setting offset the desolate story and violent world the characters inhabit. First time director Jang Cheol-so does an excellent job, shooting simply and letting the performances and the emotions shine through and guide the story.
The pacing is slow, giving true time to develop the characters and detail Bok-nam’s depressing destitute life on the island. Ignored and maltreated by all the other players, she is an inactive voyeur, unable to intervene. It is often hard to watch.
All of this build-up more than pays off however in the explosive and bloody third act, which is a perfect portrayal of a person pushed to the path of murderous vengeance.
The two female leads are both brilliant, playing diametric opposites. Ji Sung-won plays Hae-won as a detached urbanite, resolutely refusing to remove the rose tinted glasses she views her home through, even when faced with the abuse her best friend is living with.
As Bok-nam Yeong-hie Seo seamlessly takes the character from an annoying yokel, whose gushy sycophant behavior around her big city friend is creepy at best, to a touching and heart breaking portrayal of a violated victim who loses the only thing in the world which means anything to her.
A poignant powerful picture about abuse and betrayal, Bedeviled explores how far someone can be pushed and mistreated until they finally snap, and the horrific consequences that follow that breakdown.