The biggest aspect that drew my attention to the film “2037” was the South Korean portrayal of women’s prisons.
In most western countries, female prisons are portrayed as places that are rampant with violence and lesbianism. Some forms of entertainment portray women’s prisons far better than others. The Australian TV show “Wentworth” does a much better job in portraying a realistic female prison than Netflix’s Orange is the New Black due to its piss poor writing. “2037” is a film that has a lot of stories but does so in the most dramatic way possible.
In a film about a 19-year-old girl named Yoon Young (Hong Ye-ji) and her mother (Kim Ji-young), Yoon Young takes care of her mother who is hearing impaired as she works in the restaurant looking to save some money to become a civil servant. One night, Yon Young is raped by her mother’s coworker and in retaliation, she bashes him in the head with a rock until he dies.
Despite the sexual assault, she is given five years in prison for murder and sent to a medium-security prison. Yoon Young has a difficult time getting used to her new life behind bars with her new identity as prisoner 2037 and living with new her prison mates. The situation gets even messier for her when she realizes that she is pregnant from the sexual assault. With a mother on the outside, a baby on the inside, and a possibility of early release on the table, Yoon Young is an emotional wreck trying to figure out how she’s going to manage the next steps of her life.
There are things to like about “2037” but the film has many flaws. Watching this film is like watching a very long episode of “The Young and the Restless” The melodrama is turned up to 20 with many dramatic scenes having loud piano music playing in the background for effect. It’s a big problem with some of the subject material that requires more seriousness to be effective. The film’s over-the-top nature prevents you from connecting to the movie the way you should as a viewer.
The film addresses some hot-button issues when it comes to sentencing due to sexual crimes, as well as pregnancy and adoption. On one hand, you have a protagonist who is dealing with the reality of raising a child as a victim of rape. The film counters this dilemma by presenting a character who has massive anger management issues due to being abandoned by her parents when she was young. The two characters present a very interesting conflict story-wise but the film never addresses the conflict between the two in a way that is satisfying.
The movie begins to lose steam halfway through because there isn’t much direction with the film. The filmmakers had no idea how to conclude the storyline they set up meaning storylines and character development are left on the table. Not to mention the film drags on far too long needing at least 20 minutes to be cut out in order to feel defined.
“2037” starts off strong but then loses the direction of the story giving audiences the sense that the film is nothing more than a missed opportunity.