No Tomorrow @ Montreal World Film Festival

no tomorrowDirector Ji-seung Lee’s first film Azooma was a revenge picture, so it should not have been a surprise to me that this his second film, No Tomorrow, would also be violent and tense. I was sucked in by the first 60 minutes of this 85 minute film with all it calmness and lack of too much happening. Then boom, the last 25 minutes you were thrown for a loop as the story changed in a way you could not have predicted and you were on the edge of your seat.

Hye-ri (Hyo-joo Park) works as a television news reporter. She has got an anonymous tip about salt mine workers who are being abused and maybe even not paid. She grabs cameraman Seok-hoon (Hyeon-wook Lee), a newly married man whose wife Gina is upset about him working so much, and is off to find her story.

After a weird encounter at the flat of a young man who might have formerly worked there Hye-ri is even more convinced there is a story. All she knows is that the salt mines are on a remote and sparsely inhabited island off the mainland. Since no ferries go to these small islands she and Seok-hoon have to hire fishing boats to take them there. After traveling to a few such island and coming up empty, Hye-ri and Seok-hoon are about to give up when the last one they arrive at has salt mines.

The hunt for the story begins. Hye-ri is not someone who gives up easily and locked gates and an owner (Il-hwa Choi) and his agitated son Ji-hoon (Jun-yeol Ryu) kicking her off the property does not deter Hye-ri. She presses on especially after she discovers that the three workers, Sang-ho (Seong-woo Bae), Hyo-joong (Dong-hyeon Geum) and Mr. Ha (Seong-kwang Ha), are mentally challenged. She especially presses Sang-ho for the truth and after she gets a little the timid mad is beaten. With the local police not seeming willing to do anything Hye-ri calls her friend who is a detective in Seoul. The news she gets from him is shocking and suddenly this becomes a story that endangers the life of everyone involved.

The tagline for the film is “The Closer to Truth. The Closer to Death.” Truer words have never been spoken…or written about a film. Things were going along rather slowly until all of a sudden there was an unexpected break in the story and everything about the film changed. Director Ji-seung Lee has lulled us into a false sense of safety with the seemingly innocuous story of abuse of workers at a salt mine and then it becomes something in which very few of the characters survive. Though the less said about it the better. Kick back, relax and watch this great little film, but don’t get too comfortable.

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