And this is only the film's introduction, and this summary doesn't even begin to spoil the constant barrage of grotesquery and misery that follows.
If anything, The Weight's title is all too apt, as there is nothing light to the film. If there's one thing missing entirely, it's any sense of subtlety. The film is quite literally about "the weight" of the world, "the weight" that we all carry, particularly the poor, the downtrodden, the social outcasts, the geeks, and the freaks.
The Weight is the type of film where a mortician suffering from an extreme case of tuberculosis gets hammered at the morgue during his lunch break with his overweight female co-worker. A Korean imitation of Rain Dogs era Tom Waits croons in the background as the two attempt a drunken, awkward waltz while surrounded by nude corpses.
And there's a heavy David Lynch influence to the color palette and set dressings. The film oozes the same off-kilter tone as Lynch's most popular works, while it liberally borrows many of the same visual motifs as Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, and Lost Highway.
The Weight is a film that wallows in filth and disparity while carrying a mordent obsession with the aberrant. On a surface level, The Weight could easily be accused of being pretentious art house misery porn.
This thing should have been perfect fodder for a brilliantly funny and scathing Boozie Movie review. I should have had a field day making ludicrous and offensive analogies to compare this to.
But I didn't loathe The Weight. Somehow, I absolutely loved it.
With every failed attempt I've previously made to write a summary for the film's story and structure, I found myself second guessing my opinion on it. By all means, on paper, this film reads as the type of obnoxious morbid curiosity I idolized in college and have since come to avoid. As I try to recount all of the horrible, over bearing things that take place within its short running time, I struggle with my admiration for it.
It would do both the film and its potential fans a disservice to provide a straight-arrow description of its story.
And even with its knock off Lynchian visuals, it's also one of the most daring, accomplished, and original films I've seen. Notice the placement for that period in that last sentence.
The Weight has not only already secured a place in my best of list for the year, but it may have just become one of my new favorite films of all time.
And yet, it's hard to easily recommend with any of the typical hyperbolic praise reserved for blogger reviews. It's definitely an acquired taste for the more adventurous viewer, but it stands as one of the most memorable and powerful films of the last few years.
As is often the case with getting involved in providing film festival coverage where you're watching five to seven films a day, everything has started to bleed together. As I sit down to write my reviews late into the night and early morning, even my scribbled notes taken during the screening are failing to inspire much reflection on what I've just watched.
But it's been four days and 20 some films later since I've viewed The Weight and it's continued to linger with me.
For better or for worse.
While the film may revolve around a lonely hump-backed mortician who props the morgue's corpses up as models for his figure paintings who's also involved in an incestuous relationship with his suicidal transgendered brother, the characters are never treated as side show geek acts. There's a legitimate empathy and sympathy towards the many pitiful misfits who populate The Weight. And there's a droll and surrealist, yet black as night, dark humor that brings levity to the punishing proceedings.
By all means, this film has no right to work as well as it does and yet I remained completely awe struck by it through and through.
But I worry it could have been the result of sleep deprivation and the remnants of THC in my system from the previous night.
In the final act, The Weight starts to teeter and threatens to veer off track, nearly derailing itself and becoming a major train wreck of catastrophic proportions. The ending is a vicious sucker punch to the stomach and I was shaking my head, having an inner monologue with the film, pleading for it to get off of the path that it had started to merrily skip along. I didn't want it to go where it went.
But it recklessly forged ahead, not giving a damn for the viewer. But it didn't betray my trust or insult me. This is not a Todd Solondz film that holds only cynical contempt for its audience.
The ending is rough but not unearned, bleak but not malicious.
Jeon Kyu-hwan's direction is remarkably confident and assured. The Weight is a shockingly polished and beautiful work that I would almost dare to call a masterpiece. And I think this review has already used up its adverb quota.
Beyond the Lynchian aesthetic, it's difficult to find another film to compare The Weight to. I would liken the experience to something such as Taxidermia, so if you were a fan of that, there's a possibility you'll be a fan of The Weight.
But for this jaded film critic, Jeon Kyu-hwan is a filmmaker to keep an eye out on. I only fear that The Weight is likely to never secure any type of distribution for the North American market. Outside of Fantasia, I'm not sure how anyone will even have to chance to experience it for themselves.