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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

A Sober Look at Suicide In South Korean Short Film "Bridge of Life"

"BRIDGE OF LIFE"  (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 2:44
Company:  N/A

Marie (Rachel M. Josephine) recently lost her parents (Herman Goutama and Me Susanti) and decides to cast herself from the Bridge of Life, a location so named because of the incredible number of suicides that take place there every year in South Korea.

Two years ago, in an effort to fight the deaths, motion triggered inspirational messages were installed along the length of the bridge.

They may not be much, but they may be all that stand in the way of Marie and a watery death.

So what does she choose?  Life?  Or death?

A LIMITED STORY

Albert Antonio wrote and directed "Bridge of Life", which comes to us all the way from South Korea with subtitles.  Shot for the MyRodeReel 2015 short film competition on no budget with an inexperienced cast and crew, the results are surprisingly impressive: the video quality is top notch and Antonio's visuals are mature and appropriately moody, considering the subject matter.

The main problem is that there simply isn't much story to work with here, and with the film clocking in well below two minutes, Marie doesn't have much time to make her choice.  The conclusion feels abrupt -- she jumps back and forth emotionally so fast that I didn't have the time to understand her decision.

"Bridge of Life" becomes more of a question mark than anything else -- a question mark for the real life Bridge of Life: what can it really hope to achieve?  Is it an inadequate response for a growing epidemic of suicide, a real national health problem that deserves a bigger and more legitimate response than a few flashing lights and platitudes?

It's up to the viewer to make that decision, and I know that I, for one, have given this issue much deeper thought as a result of watching Antonio's short film.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  Antonio's script is bare to the extreme, providing only the simplest A-B-C plot formula.  It works here because of the social/political undertones which lend it some much needed depth, but there's not much more to it.
Directing: 3 / 5.  The visuals are suitably dark, and the shots of the ocean are gorgeous.  Antonio takes the directing credit here, but he's given help by assistants Nindita Garini Caesary Tumakaka and Adeline Deciana.
Editing: 4 / 5.  The movie is cut together about as well as it possibly can be, the film moves at a good pace and above all else the color palette looks great.  I didn't see an editor listed in the credits, but whoever did it, did a good job.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  Stock music from Kevin McLeod and competently recorded dialogue.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  Though admittedly her role is paper thin as written, Josephine is credible in her lead performance.  The only two other roles in the film never appear in the film but in photographs.

Final Grade: 2.9 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Bridge of Life" and follow Albert Antonio on Facebook!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!