Mysterious drifter Tae-suk enters other peoples' lives as easily as he breaks into their unoccupiedhomes. Instead of stealing their riches, he repays his hosts' unknowing hospitality by fixing broken items, cleaning up, even doing their laundry. But when he sneaks into a sprawling mansion, he discovers a beautiful, lonely wife named Sun-hwa, trapped in a loveless marriage. Without saying a word, the pair begin an erotic game of cat-and-mouse, until her abusive husband returns home, unleashing a shocking burst of violence. Tae-suk defends Sun-hwa with the aid of her husband's golf club. The lovers run away together finding domestic bliss inhabiting strangers' homes. Later, when Tae-suk is framed for a murder, even prison walls can't keep them apart for good.
Words really do get in the way in 3-Iron
, a strange, poignant South Korean film from director Kim Ki-Duk (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
) in which the central character doesn't utter a single word. It's not explained why the puck never speaks, but it adds an element of mysticism to this love story that's at once humorous and disturbing. In this case, the knight in shining armor, Tae-Suk (Hee Jae) is a vagabond who supports himself by breaking into people's homes when they're on vacation. But rather than steal possessions, he cooks himself a meal, carefully washes the dishes, takes a bath, does their laundry, fixes anything broken, sleeps in their pajamas, and leaves each home spic and span. One day he trespasses on the home of a battered wife (Seung-yon Lee) who's still home. Fascinated, she leaves her husband and joins in his adventures, until one of their random break-ins gets them in trouble and the couple is forced apart.
Adding in a reliance on some stunning visuals, 3-Iron does a good job filling itself out in a non-implicit way. In this case, compliments and banter aren't needed to tell you that the pair has found a bond that no one can wrest away from them. The ending may tickle suspended reality (it's either becoming supernatural or someone's a lot more nimble than we thought), but it's still a poetic conclusion to this twisted fairy tale. --Ellen A. Kim