The Bacchus Lady
Gateway | Dragons & Tigers
The lady of this film’s title is an elderly prostitute, who plies her trade in the park among rivals of the same age. Soyoung (Youn Yuhjung) is one strong woman: over the years she’s faced hardship, heartbreak and humiliation, and still she soldiers on, facing life with as much honour as she can. E Jyong’s film begins with a tragic incident that leaves an adorable young boy, Minho (Choi Hyunjun), in her care. As she struggles to nurture him, earn her keep and honour the dying wishes of some male clients, we get a portrait of grace under pressure.
Bacchus ladies are a real phenomenon in South Korea, so named for the bottles of energy drink that they hawk to their customers as a cover. This film is a character study, a sociological portrait and a moral drama; more than that, though, it offers a chance to spend time in great company. Soyong is a heroine for our hard times, and as acted by veteran master Youn, she’s truly lovable. What emerges from this film, for all its harshness, is the presence of a beautiful person.
“A tour de force from the grand dame of Korean cinema… The Bacchus Lady is certainly audacious, and a powerful reminder of how lives could or would be lived once the youthful vigor is gone.”—Clarence Tsui, Hollywood Reporter