The script of the film is based on the titular theory, which indulges the idea of repeating lives of different individuals through the years. One of the theory’s most famous examples is the lives of U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Both presidents had seven letters in their last names, were elected to the senate 100 years apart (Lincoln in 1846 & Kennedy in 1946), became presidents 100 years apart (Lincoln in 1860 & Kennedy in 1960) and both were assassinated on Fridays, with Lincoln killed in Ford Theatre & Kennedy killed in a Ford vehicle. Both presidents were succeeded by presidents named Johnson that were born a 100 years apart (Andrew Johnson born in 1808 and Lyndon B. Johnson born in 1908).
Kim Seok-hyeon’s life is ideal. He has a gorgeous wife, a wonderful daughter and he is chosen as the youngest presiding Judge of Seoul High Court. His life seems perfect in the beginning of the film, although the director presents an atmosphere where something seems amiss, through some phone calls, a crossing with a strange individual during a mountain ascent and some peculiar looks from district attorney Lee Kang-seong towards his wife, during a party.
Soon after the party, Seok-hyeon’s life crumbles when his wife is brutally murdered, with the main suspect being a man he had previously sentenced to jail, named Jang Soo-young. However, a reporter approaches him and points out the similarities between his life and that of Judge Han, from 30 years ago, who has additionally lost his daughter. As the titular theory starts to take form, Seok-hyeon has 16 days to prevent his daughter from being killed, while he searches for the perpetrator, in a case that eventually becomes exceedingly complicated.
Kwon Ho-young directs elaborately a thriller that stands apart from the usual flicks of the category, due to the particular theory, that gives the film added depth and makes the viewer think, instead of simply witnessing murder after murder and the omnipresent game of cat and mouse. He actually presents a dilemma between logic and urban legend, which could be summarized in a phrase uttered in the film: “coincidence is not mathematically possible.” The film’s script actually revolves around this phrase being true or false.
The atmosphere of the picture is great, retaining the agony for all of its duration, with sharp editing and fast pace. I especially enjoyed the action scene with the chase in the stairs, which was magnificently cinematographed, including a wonderful panoramic shot.
The male leads (Ji Jin-hee as Seok-hyeon, Lee Jong-hyuk as Lee Kang-seong and Ha Jung-woo as Jang Soo-young) are very competent in their respective parts, although their roles are not very demanding.
The sole flaw of the film lies with its script, which goes a bit overboard, particularly at the end. The constant plot twists and revelations that start occurring after a time, may be engaging for the viewer, but eventually make the film difficult to follow, as each theory crumbles and a new one is introduced almost constantly.
Despite the aforementioned, “Parallel Life” is a very entertaining thriller that retains the interest up to the last minute through elaborate direction and impressive cinematic technique.
The film will be available for streaming from DramaFever