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Tale Of Two Sisters
(Ji Woon Kim)

A Tale of Two Sisters, 2003 movie by Ji Woon Kim

This Korean thriller/drama is a poignant, complex story concerning, as the title says, two young sisters. With elements of the supernatural combined with complicated character interaction and the internal struggles of an adolescent girl, this film will make its audience stop and think for a while after the ending credits are finished rolling. Its chilling moments and haunting soundtrack complement each other perfectly, rounding out this movie as a must-see.

The story begins with a young girl in a mental institution. A doctor asks her questions, but she gives no answer.

The scene changes to what must be the girl?s past. Two sisters, Su-mi and Su-yeon, climb out of their father?s car after just having arrived at their house in the countryside. One can immediately tell that Su-mi, the older sister, is very protective and loving of Su-yeon. The girls play outside and then enter the house warily, where they are greeted by their stepmother. They do not like this woman at all, and one can feel the awkwardness of their relationship.

Su-mi especially cannot stand her stepmother for some reason, and they constantly fight. The stepmother constantly picks on Su-yeon, who is passive and frightened all the time. Su-mi takes on the role of a fierce protector, even yelling at her tired, world-weary father in defense of her younger sister. We learn that a certain closet in the house has some kind of significance, for the girls fear it.

We are reminded that at the start of the movie, Su-mi was in a mental hospital. Just how did she get there? We can already see her psychotic nature, and learn that her mother died. The key to her mental instability lies in her schizophrenia.

As the tensions between Su-mi and her stepmother escalate, her father finally approaches Su-mi and tells her that Su-yeon is dead. We as the audience have to freeze for a moment in confusion?Su-yeon has been in the movie all along, tagging alongside her sister. But then we realize that the young, innocent girl is a figment of Su-mi?s schizophrenic imagination. She has been talking to herself the whole time. Meanwhile, there seems to be a ghost in the house that we never get a complete glimpse of. Its involvement in the story keeps the audience on its toes.

Su-mi?s mental state worsens as she gets into a physical fight with her stepmother over a bloody bag Su-mi believes holds her sister?s body. But then we learn that the stepmother is also an invention in Su-mi?s mind. The only people living in the house are Su-mi and her father.

Su-mi is brought back to the hospital. The real stepmother arrives at the house, and the father leaves to take care of Su-mi. She is killed by the ghost, which dwells in the closet the girls were afraid of.

At the end of the film, we finally see the complete picture of Su-mi?s past and how things came to be this way. When her mother was alive, her father kept a mistress in the house, causing her mother to commit suicide out of depression. Su-yeon found her mother?s body hanging in her closet and frantically tried to pull it down, but the closet fell on her. The stepmother was about to help save her, but Su-mi, unaware of the situation, intercepted her in the hallway, and they exchanged spiteful words. The stepmother decided it wasn?t worth it to save Su-yeon, and the girl died. Later, Su-mi found out what happened, and it is assumed the guilt plagued her until she developed schizophrenia. The ghost in the closet is Su-yeon?s.

This thrilling movie is artfully presented, each moment filled with just the right amount of intensity and chilling harmonies. Not a moment is wasted in this film. Upon finishing, its complex mysteries allow its audience to ponder the film?s deeper meanings for a good while. Sisterly love, betrayal, insecurity, bitterness, and other faults of humankind are all elements that hold up the frame of this entrancingg movie.

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