Memoir of a Murderer – South Korea, 2017 – reviews

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‘Memories can deceive you’

Memoir of a Murderer – aka 살인자의 기억법 – is a 2017 South Korean psychological thriller feature film directed by Shin-yeon Won (The Suspect; A Bloody Aria; Scary Hair), based on a bestselling fiction book by Kim Young-ha. The film stars Sol Kyung-gu, Kim Nam-gil and Kim Seol-hyun.

Byeong-soo (Sol Kyung-gu) was a serial killer in the past, though he now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. He has a daughter, Eun-hee (Kim Seol-hyun), but she isn’t his real daughter; rather, he took her from one of his victims, raising her as his own.

One day, Tae-joo, later Eun-hee’s boyfriend (Kim Nam-gil) approaches Eun-hee to kill her. To protect Eun-hee, he fights to keep his memory and he plans to kill Tae-joo. However it becomes apparent that his memories may not be as reliable as he believes them to be…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Though almost laughably contrived, the premise of Memoir of a Murderer is an intriguing one and the film gets off on the right foot with fast-paced storytelling framed with moody and menacing visuals […] The problem is that after setting several layers of intrigue in motion, the film proceeds to get tangled up in its own mystery, pushing its already strained credibility to breaking point.” Pierce Conran, Screen Anarchy

“Won and screenwriter Hwang Jo-yoon borrow elements from scores of films, like Confession of Murder, Memories of Murder, and Blood and Ties, but like productive magpies, they weave them into something new and formidable. It all looks darkly eerie thanks to cinematographer Choi Young-hwan’s evocative lensing. For small-town creepiness, it is a much better bet than IT this week. Highly recommended…” Joe Bendel, J.B. Spins

“It’s a white-knuckle ride as the film escalates to an extended confrontation between the three leads, but also one that has a few twists that may not hold up to closer examination. Nevertheless, it’s a top-notch thriller that is guaranteed to keep audiences engaged and thinking after the credits have rolled.” Richard Gray, The Reel Bits

” …polished but lacking in panache. A few nice locations and snowy exteriors are mostly filmed with shot/reverse shots and the occasional slow zoom in. Ultimately, the same could be said of the story. Some promising story elements are tossed into the pot, only to be left to float around listlessly until they sink out of sight.” Pierce Conran, Modern Korean Cinema

” …one of the most impressively fresh feeling thrillers of the year and one that daring cinephiles will want to experience. The execution is practically perfect, the story is approached refreshingly, and its ability to bend the tones of good, bad, heartfelt, and awful makes it one that’s never predictable in its emotional core either.” Matt Reifschneider, Blood Brothers

“The movie’s atmosphere of a sleepy country town, constantly wrapped in fog, creates a perfect sense of danger. The grand finale is a bloodbath and the ending, typical for Korean films (and the reason for me loving them so much), slips into a pure melodrama, with a few genuinely touching, sentimental moments.” Pasha’s Film Reviews

“The only real disappointment is the grand finale, which slips into a pure melodrama with its over-the-top plot twists and long, drawn out fight scene. That said, it’s the film’s dry humour and Shin-yun’s gorgeous photography that are the highlights of Memoir of a Murderer with the film’s unpredictable twist guaranteed to keep audiences engaged long after the credits have rolled.” Donna Kelly, Frankly, My Dear…

Cast and characters:

  • Sol Kyung-gu as Kim Byeong-soo
  • Kim Nam-gil as Tae-joo
  • Kim Seol-hyun as Kim Eun-hee
  • Oh Dal-su as Byeong-man
  • Hwang Seok-jeong
  • Gil Hae-yeon
  • Kim Han-joon as detective
  • Kim Dong-hee
  • Kim Jung-young


Memoir of a Murderer is released in South Korea on September 7, 2017.


This film should not be confused with the 2017 Japanese movie Memoirs of a Murderer, directed by Yu Irie.


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