London Korean Film Festival
"I am going back!" declares Kim Yong-ho (Sul Kyung-gu) at the beginning of Peppermint Candy, as he stands on a rail bridge, his arms outstretched for an oncoming train. Made just before the new millennium, Lee Chang-dong's second feature also goes back, anticipating the inverted chronology of Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000), Gaspar Noë's Irréversible (2002) and François Ozon's 5x2 (2004) through a series of receding flashbacks that trace five periods in this suicide's life, right back to the doomed promise of his youth. Along the way, spineless Yong-ho finds himself on the wrong side of history in the Asian economic crisis, and before that in Korea's violent struggle for a democratic identity, so that the nation's bright future has become one that he can no longer share. Here the candy of the title is like the madeleine in Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, or the 'rosebud' in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941) - a trigger for memory, but also a sweet that comes with a very bitter aftertaste.