INTRODUCTION. It isn’t easy, moving schools. Kim June is a bright student from a lower middle class Korean family who gets his shot at an elite academy but realizes very quickly that he doesn’t measure up to the school’s top ten brightest; this exclusive clique of students turns friendly competition into an intense high stakes game. A game that doesn’t disappoint.
CHARACTERS. Although it is fairly evident from the beginning that there isn’t something quite right about them, we’re introduced to the clique as classroom clichés; bookworms and smart-asses. This changes quickly. Their stereotypes make for convenient introductions but each step taken from the start brings us closer to the sinister psychologies sleeping underneath. I had trouble deciding if what I felt for the protagonist was concern or fear; sympathy or unease. June and his peers possess complex personalities, leading us to realize that when push comes to shove, youth is no barrier to perceptive belligerence.
STORY. Pluto features a riveting plot, told in interspersed halves- before and after the death of a popular classmate. Director Su-won Shin does an excellent job of illustrating the evolving relationships between characters and the routine harshness of high school humour. While the story takes academic competition to hyperbolic (and fascinating) degrees, it sometimes displays a very pragmatic complexion. One that any former student might be able to understand. I won’t spoil the storyline any further except to say that it is ultimately a drama and thriller. The less you know, the better.
CONCLUSION. On or off the big screen, Pluto is worth a watch if you aren’t averse to a little violence and flashes of man’s inhumanity to man. There is some food for thought here and I welcome the nourishment it brings to an already bountiful film festival.
CHARACTERS: 7/10 STORY: 8/10 REWATCH FACTOR: 7/10 OVERALL: 7.5/10