I had great ambitions for this installment of The Illusion Exotic. Now its Sunday afternoon and the shadows are growing long. I’ve started about four different blog posts for tomorrow, and abandoned them all. I’ve bounced back and forth between this blog and my next manuscript and I can’t seem to get a good foothold on either.
Mostly what I did this weekend was nothing. Doing nothing makes me feel unproductive. Maybe my brain needed a rest, because mostly what I did this weekend was binge-watch Netflix. Mind you, I’m not a binge watcher. In fact, I don’t watch a lot of television. I’d rather read, write or edit photos. This weekend, I just didn’t have the energy. After tooling in the yard, I sat down and turned on Netflix and started watching a show someone at work recommended. With a few exceptions, I didn’t quit watching until I finished the entire season. It had me completely enthralled.
The name of the show was The Squid Game. The South Korean series, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, is at times brutal and beautiful. Brilliantly written and acted, it caught me by surprise. It tells the story of a down and out gambling addict who failed himself and everyone in his life. Desperate, he accepts a too-good-to-be-true offer to participate in competition for a chance to win the South Korean equivalent of $40 million. Drugged and whisked away to an isolated island, he finds himself with 455 other contestants, all as equally desperate. Over the course of nine episodes, they are pitted against one another in a series of childhood games. The twist is that the losers of each round are killed.
There are a lot of messages in The Squid Game, but it never comes off as preachy. It’s not Woke. I think it’s a social commentary on the dehumanizing effects of debt and pursuit of money for its own sake, and how this world can tear us down. It’s also a commentary on how dehumanizing modern society can be. The use of masks in the story kept reminding me of the emergence and effects of masks since 2019. It also carries a harsh message about the emptiness of Christianity that doesn’t practice what it preaches. Yet, in one powerful scene a character demonstrates the essence of Christ’s sacrifice.
For my fellow writers, I’d recommend watching this as a study of character development and plot tension. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s writing and character development is first-class. The actors carry the story wonderfully. It’s dubbed, but dubbed well. I usually prefer subtitles, because something is always lost when a movie is dubbed. However, in this case, the dubbing worked well. A nod should go to the voice actors and editors who made this work well in English.
I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone under 17. There is brief nudity and some sexual content, but mostly it’s violent, but necessarily so. The violence, however, wasn’t as terrifying as the tension. The tension is simply brilliant.
See? A weekend on the couch paid off. See you Friday.
#thesquidgame #reviews #netflix
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