Weird, I thought, as I sat down to watch Rage. It seems strange that a film called Rage would be rated a PG…
The film then proceeded to open with a blood splattered murder scene and the people behind us started to rattle and whisper. This continued for a further twenty or so minutes with the final straw being a sweaty intimate sex scene between two men. Clack, clack, clack went the seats behind us as they all got up to walk out. I scowled, but as they passed I saw it was a family with young children and softened. Fair enough; this is definitely not a film for the young ones and a poor mistake by the Edinburgh International Film Festival to put the incorrect age rating on the ticket.
Rage is based on the Shuichi Yoshida novel of the same name (Ikari) and is directed masterfully by Lee Sang-il. It’s an impressively complex web of three separate stories where the central theme of “rage” infects each storyline. Refreshingly though, there’s no big “surprise” where they somehow all weave together at the end.
Before the film began, Lee advised us to “concentrate” while watching the film and I’m so glad he did because in the early stages I felt completely lost. The different stories jumping around mixed with the difficulty of recognising who was who could have easily compromised my enjoyment of the film. While I was initially worried my difficulty distinguishing between the Asian actors could be chalked up to a bad case of the “cross-race effect”, I relaxed as the film progressed as this perceived inability was revealed to be a key part of the story.
The film’s three stories all spin out of that opening murder, each introducing a set of characters who in one way or another interact with someone who could have been the killer. These potential killers all look very similar, thereby increasing the viewer’s inability to tell who is who and thus casting distrust on them all.
Trust is a theme that runs throughout Rage, to the point that I felt like the film was playing with me, making it seem more and more that the black sheep in each story was the killer. I didn’t trust them, even when I knew they could be innocent. It was a sick feeling that resonated awkwardly with me – we’ve all felt that kind of distrust towards someone at some point or another – and it kept me from fully attaching myself to the characters. As the doubt ate away at me, I found myself casting suspicion even on their frequent good actions.
No matter what the characters in Rage did, it seemed there was nothing they could do to prove their innocence to me. While its themes lead me on a journey paved with tragedy, the film nevertheless enthralled me all the way to its gripping, rewarding finale.