I think that one of the main differences between Asian and Western cinematographies is that the first ones mix genres more widely than the second ones. The result is that Eastern movies use not to be so predictable as Western films, and this is applicable to commercial titles too. South Korean movies are a good example of this miscellany.
Concretely, in “Diary of June” or “Bystanders” (“6-wol-eui Il-gi” is its original title) we can find the typical thriller about a group of cops trying to catch a serial killer, a buddy movie with some touches of comedy, and specially in the last 30 minutes a very intense drama that made me remember the dark social connotations of the Japanese “Confessions”. This cocktail of genres is always welcome if script and direction can keep the balance between the elements. Just like a cocktail, that it will be a good one if the ingredients have been mixed and shaken in the right proportion. Fortunately, many Korean movies succeed in this and “Diary of June” is not an exception.
As a thriller, it keeps the necessary suspense during its first half. Later the identity of the killer won’t be a mystery, but the reason is not a flaw of the script. That’s because, since then, the social drama acquires more importance than the criminal investigation. Like “Confessions”, the target of the critic is the failure of the educational establishment (including passive teachers and well-intentioned but mistaken parents or relatives). Kids can be cruel, very cruel, but their cruelty is only a reflection of the cruelty (or just unhappiness) showed by adults in front of their astonished faces. We have a very big responsibility for the new generations and too much often we are not conscious of that. Every member of the cast, including the teenagers, is good. But specially Sin Eun-kyeong, as the tough but sensible female cop with her own personal demons, does great work. Well supported by Eric Moon, there is a good chemistry between their characters and some funny moments involving their superior officers.
This film is not one of the best of South Korean cinematography (the competence is high) but it works and it goes beyond the simple entertainment thanks to its social message. Not a must see but I highly recommend it.
Review by jose_moscardo