For suburban drivers, long commutes can be dehumanizing. You might be surrounded by people in traffic, yet hermetically sealed in your car. When traffic is bad, you are even denied the illusion of forward motion. At least that seems to be the case for the unnamed protagonist of Yoo Ji-tae’s Out of My Intention, which screened as part of the NY Korean Film Festival’s short film program.
Traffic is bad, but Lee Dae-yeon’s commuter is in no particular hurry to get home. He would rather face the recriminations of Ok-kyung, his ex-girlfriend, or at least his memories of her. Intention starts as a memory play before veering into the experimental terrain of dreamscapes and the dark recesses of the subconscious. Strangely enough, it is a trip accompanied by an often jazz-influenced soundtrack, composed by Cho Young-wuk.
While the initial music we hear is basically mood music, as the man at the wheel descends into himself, the audience hears sounds reminiscent of groovy 1960’s bachelor pad-style jazz, featuring vibes and electric guitar. It seems wildly out of place, yet there is a dark undercurrent below the effervescence of the vibes. Cho’s score is oddly successful in facilitating the on-screen disorientation taking place. It makes one curious about the musicians who played on it, (but the ending credits were no help to me).
Yoo is better known as an actor in Korea, but he shows an interesting visual sense in Intention. He also gets convincing performances from his actors, with Lee emoting much, but expressing little. Conversely, Cho An has a very showy role, yet must remain a cipher to viewers.
At just over twenty-four minutes Intention is long enough to bear some analysis. While its surreal imagery can be puzzling, its lonely destination is dramatically effective. It is part of a carefully curated short film program that has two more blocks running Monday night at Cinema Village.