BFI #LFF 2017: MEMOIR OF A MURDERER Film Review

Seol Kyung-gu in MEMOIR OF A MURDERER

Taut, intelligent and unflinchingly dark, MEMOIR OF A MURDERER is an engrossing crime thriller with plenty of twists and turns

Following SEVEN DAYS (2007) and THE SUSPECT (2013), director Won Shin-yun returns to the big screen with MEMOIR OF A MURDERER, a twisted Korean tale of fatherly love and killer instinct.

Described as “TO CATCH A THIEF meets MEMENTO”, MEMOIR OF A MURDERER tells the story of retired serial killer Kim Byung-su who is encouraged to keep a diary by his daughter Eun-hee after being diagnosed with dementia. Reflecting on his days as a vigilante, Byung-su secretly recalls his murderous youth as he picked off those he saw as human trash. But there’s a new killer in town and only Byung-su can identify him – except he can’t remember where he wrote their name down and when he finally does, it might be too late.

Taut, intelligent and unflinchingly dark, MEMOIR OF A MURDERER is a black-hearted thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Borrowing elements from films like SEVEN, MEMENTO, HEAT and INSOMNIA, Shin-yun’s moody visuals and fast-paced plot wastes no time hooking you in, using Byung-su’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s to ingenious effect. OLDBOY-style amnesiac lapses and MEMENTO-esque conundrums play tricks with the narrative as Byung-su’s memory eludes him and there’s a nice little plot twist to keep the suspense high and you guessing right up until the last snow-filled frame.

Seol Kyung-gu in MEMOIR OF A MURDERER

Sul Kyung-gu delivers a convincing performance as the increasingly paranoid, guilt-ridden Kim, switching from to loving father to down-right scary serial killer with the flinch of an eye. Elsewhere, Kim Nam-gil delivers a competent performance as the handsome Min, while former K-pop star Kim Seol-hyun is predictably cute as Kim’s daughter Eun-hee.

The only real disappointment is the grand finale, which slips into a pure melodrama with its over-the-top plot twists and long, drawn out fight scene.

That said, it’s the film’s dry humour and Shin-yun’s gorgeous photography that are the highlights of MEMOIR OF A MURDERER with the film’s unpredictable twist guaranteed to keep audiences engaged long after the credits have rolled.

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

MEMOIR OF A MURDERER screens at the BFI London Film Festival on 9 October 2017

About Donna

Donna is the Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she is a digital marketing whizz, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage, The Public Reviews and ScreenRelish. Loves Shakespeare, prosecco and Formula 1