Lingering between the black comedy and the social drama, “Nailed” is an interesting debut from Ha Yoon-jae, whose credits include mostly works as producer, in films like “Scarlet Letter”. Let us see how she fared in her first endeavor as a director.
Jae-goo and Soon-yeong are a married couple with many problems. They run an auto repair shop by the road in a small town, but the business has declined significantly since a housing development project nearby has flooded the area with trucks, subsequently leading other drivers into using alternative routes. Furthermore, the two have not managed to have a child due to Jae-goo’s impotence, which has led Soon-yeong’s family to hold a grudge against him, although they were not very favorable towards him from the beginning. Lastly, local shops association leader Mr Mun is a rather shady individual who still carries a torch for Soon-yeong, thus becoming another one who despises Jae-goo. The fate of the couple seems to change, however, when a car passing by hits a nail dropped from one of the construction trucks, ending up in Jae-goo’s shop who quickly proceeds on overcharging his client. Soon enough, he gets the idea to scatter the road with nails, and job starts blooming, more than ever before. An initially reluctant Soon-yeong soon is drawn into the practice, but the price to pay is revealed, eventually.
Ha Yoon-jae directs a film that has a very interesting basic premise, which, however, seems to have been stretched excessively in order to become a feature, with the story becoming somewhat hyperbolic after a fashion, particularly due to the many additional concepts incorporated, such as Soon-yeong’s family, Mr Munand local corruption. On the other hand, the main concept, of the couple who indulge into shady endeavors only to be swamped in their own greed is quite well presented, with the social comments regarding money and its repercussions being meaningful as much as entertaining.
Ha Yoon-jae makes a point of highlighting the fact that the two protagonists, despite their actions, are actually good people, although the role eventually ends up only with Jae-goo, while their “victims” are people who deserve being ripped off, because they are rich, corrupt or even both. This approach may be somewhat naive, but serves its purpose in the end, particularly regarding the entertainment it offers, while the concept of the poor people who fall victims to their circumstances is quite well presented.
The aforementioned aspect benefits the most from the acting, with Park Yong-woo as Jae-goo and Jo Eun-ji as Soon-yeon presenting their antithetical transformation eloquently, while highlighting their evident chemistry.
Kim Tae-song’s cinematography is utterly fitting to the narrative, with him presenting the almost dystopian setting of the repair shop with a focus on realism, without any exaltations of any kind. The editing of the movie follows the rules of the art-house film, implementing a slow pace, with the almost complete lack of music adding to this element.
“Nailed” is not a bad film, and Ha Yoon-jae’s potential seems to be there, but I felt that it would be better as a 30-minute short than a feature film.