Search Results for: The Age of Doubt

Reseña: La edad de la duda (English title: The Age of Doubt) de Andrea Camilleri

This post is bilingual, scroll down to find the English language version

Traducción de Teresa Clavel Lledó. Título original: L’età del dubbio, 2008. Ediciones Salamandra, 2012. Versión Kindle. 339 KB. ASIN: B008MUMFPS.

Una mañana, Montalbano se despierta de repente. Ha tenido una pesadilla. Estaba en su propio funeral y, lo que es peor, Livia no tiene intención de asistir.

“Si hubieras vivido, yo habría intentado por todos los medios seguir contigo. (…… ) Claro que, a mi edad y después de haber perdido la vida pendiente de ti ¿qué otra cosa podría haber hecho? Pero, puesto que se me presenta inesperadamente esta oportunidad única, comprenderás que …”

Montalbano se queda intrigado, ¿qué puede significar que Livia se enfrenta a una oportunidad única?

De camino a Vigàta Montalbano se queda atascado en un embotellamiento de tráfico. Las fuertes lluvias y el mar han inundado la carretera. Se las arregla para rescatar a una joven no muy agraciada de nombre Vanna Digiulio. Ella se dirigía al puerto para reunirse con su tía, que llegaba en una barca. La barca era, de hecho, un yate con un capitán y una tripulación de cuatro miembros. Montalbano siente lástima por ella y la lleva hasta el puerto donde se enteran de que el Vanna, que es también el nombre del yate, se ha retrasado debido a las malas condiciones meteorológicas. Montalbano ofrece la estación de policía a la joven para hacer su espera más cómoda.

El yate notifica haber rescatado un bote con un hombre muerto que estaba a la deriva en la entrada del puerto. El hombre estaba desnudo y su rostro está completamente desfigurado. Más adelante vamos a saber que fue envenenado. Curiosamente, cuando el yate llega, la joven desaparece y la propietaria del yate parece sorprendida cuando se le pregunta acerca de su sobrina. ¿Qué sobrina? responde.

Durante el curso de esta investigación Montalbano contará con la ayuda de la teniente Laura Belladonna que, fiel a su nombre, es una bellísima mujer. A pesar de su edad Montalbano se sentirá extremadamente atraído por ella. Hasta casi perder el juicio.

Es sorprendente descubrir que Andrea Camilleri todavía es capaz de entretener a sus lectores con otro libro en su serie de misterio protagonizada por el comisario Montalbano. Y no me ha decepcionado. Tenía ochenta y tres años de edad cuando el libro fue publicado, el décimo cuarto en su serie de novelas y el décimo octavo si se tienen en cuenta también todas sus colecciones de relatos. Por otra parte Montalbano, a pesar de su edad (mi edad por cierto) y la forma cómo se siente al respecto, aún se encuentra en excelente forma y es capaz de enamorarse. Como dice el propio Camilleri en el video adjunto Montalbano se encuentra ante una duda existencial para la que no encuentra respuestas. Además, el lector encontrará el material habitual en sus libros, personajes encantadores, diálogos ingeniosos y se nos hará la boca agua con las descripciones de sus comidas. Casi no puedo esperar a leer su próximo libro.

Mi calificación: 4/5

Ediciones Salamandra

 
In Italian

The Age of Doubt, by Andrea Camilleri

One morning, Montalbano wakes up suddenly. He has had a nightmare. He was at his own funeral and, worst of all, Livia has no intention to attend.

“Salvo. listen If you had lived, I would have done everything in my power to stay with you. I might even have married you. After wasting my time chasing after you, what else could I do? But now I’m suddenly faced with this unique opportunity, you must understand_.”

Montalbano is left intrigued, What can it mean that Livia is facing a unique opportunity?

On his way to Vigàta Montalbano gets stuck in a traffic jam. The heavy rains and the sea have flooded the road. He manages to rescue a not very graceful young lady by the name of Vanna Digiulio. She was heading to the port to meet her aunt who was arriving in a boat. The boat was in fact a yacht with a captain and a crew of four members. Montalbano feels sorry for her and takes her to the port where she finds out that the Vanna, which is also the yacht’s name, has been delayed due to bad weather conditions. Montalbano offers the police station to the young lady to make her waiting more comfortable.

The yacht notifies to have rescued a dinghy with a dead man that was adrift at the harbour’s entrance. The man was naked and his face is completely disfigured. Later on we’ll find out that he was poisoned. Strangely enough, when the yacht arrives, the young lady disappears and the yacht’s owner seems surprised when she is asked about her niece. What niece? she replies.

During the course of this investigation Montalbano will be assisted by Lt. Laura Belladonna that, true to her name, is a gorgeous woman. Despite his age Montalbano will feel himself extremely attracted to her. Until nearly lost his wits.

It’s amazing to find out that Andrea Camilleri is still able to entertain his readers with another book in his mystery series featuring Inspector Montalbano. And I was not disappointed. He was eighty-three years of age when the book was published, the fourteenth in his series of novels and the eighteenth when taking into account as well his collections of short-stories. Moreover Montalbano, despite his age (my age by the way) and the way he feels about it, is in excellent shape and is still able to fall in love. As Camilleri himself says in the video attached Montalbano faces an existential doubt for which he finds no answers. In addition, the reader will find the usual stuff in his books, charming characters, witty dialogues and the meal descriptions will make our mouth water. I can hardly wait to read his next book.

My rating: 4/5.

The Age of Doubt has been reviewed by NacyO at the crime segments, and by Jim Napier at Reviewing the evidence, among others.

The Birth of the Golden Age

The expression ‘Golden Age of detective fiction’ seems to have been coined by John Strachey in an article published by The Saturday Review in 1939 where he wrote: ‘Three sorts of novels are being written in England today. First, there are the best sellers; second, there are the highbrow intellectual novels; and third, there are the detective stories.’  To add later on:

The remaining branch of English fiction, which it is worth saying a word or two about, is the third category, that of the detective novel. And here, as a steady student, I feel a little more qualified to speak. In this queer little bypath of letters, and here almost alone, there are in England the characteristic signs of vigor and achievement. This is, perhaps, the Golden Age of the English detective story writers. Here suddenly we come to a field of literature—if you can call it that—which is genuinely flourishing.
Here are a dozen or so authors at work, turning out books which you find that your friends have read and are eager to discuss. Here are books which the authors evidently enjoyed writing and the readers unaffectedly enjoy reading. I have myself little doubt that some of these detective novels are far better jobs, on any account, than are nine tenths of the more pretentious and ambitious highbrow novels. It is characteristic of the situation that a whole list of names comes into one’s mind the minute one begins to think of detective writers. There are, for example, what we may call the “old masters.” There are Sayers, Christie, and Freeman Wills Crofts; and brooding now almost silently above them, there hovers the father of the contemporary detective novel, Mr. A, C. Bentley of that still un – surpassed classic, “Trent’s Last Case.” 
. . .
It is, however, in the work of what I may call the “young masters,” the work of, for example, Marjorie Allingham, Michael Innes, and Nicholas Blake, that the most interesting and curious developments of the detective story are taking place.

And following Martin Edwards suggestion on The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books, a good place to start to become familiar with the Golden Age of detective fiction might the following novels:

  1. Trent’s Last Case by E. C. Bentley (1913)
  2. In the Night by Lord Gorell (1917)
  3. The Middle Temple Murder by J. S. Fletcher (1919)
  4. The Skeleton Key by Bernard Capes (1919)
  5. The Cask by Freeman Wills Crofts (1920)
  6. The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne (1922)

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Except for In the Night by Lord Gorell (1917) that is out of print, and its second-hand editions are ridiculously high priced, I look forward to reading the rest of these novels soon. Stay tuned.

Review: Maigret’s Doubts, 1958 (Inspector Maigret #52) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2018. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 2654.0 KB. Print length: 173 pages. First published in French as Les scrupules de Maigret by Presses de la Cité, 1958. This translation was first published in 2018. ASIN: B074R5XP2K. ISBN: 978-0-141-98590-9.  This novel was published by Hamish Hamilton as Maigret Has Scruples in 1959. Robert Eglesfield was the translator for this and all subsequent English versions. The first American version appeared in a two-book volume (with Maigret and the Reluctant Witness) published by Doubleday. Cautiion! Not to be confused with Maigret Has Doubts, originally published as Une confidence de Maigret in 1959, aka Maigret’s Secret.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707Book description: When a salesman from a Paris department store confides his secret fears to Maigret, the Inspector soon becomes caught up in a treacherous feud between husband and wife that is not as clear cut as it seems.

While at this time the previous day he had never heard of the Martons, the train set specialist was beginning to haunt his thoughts, and so was the elegant young woman who, he admitted, had boldly stood up to him when he had done everything he could to unsettle her.

My take: One of such unusual days, at the beginning of January, where nothing happens and everything is quiet at Quai des Orfèvres, Maigret receives a visit from a man who believes his wife wants to poison him. However, the character concerned disappears rapidly when Maiget leaves him alone for a moment, and, upon his return, Maigret must put all his resources into motion to find out his name and address. That same afternoon, his wife comes before Maigret and explains that her husband, suffers delusions and that she is the one who feels that her own life is in danger. Maigret is left wondering who is telling the truth. And Maigret will feel compelled to investigate a crime has not yet occurred and in which so far the identity of the victim remains unknown. A case that Maigret decides to investigate even against the advice of Examining Magistrate Coméliau, who had been something like his friendly enemy for over twenty years. .

‘…If you want to know what I really think [said the public prosecutor], you are being over-scrupulous. If I were you, Maigret, I would drop the case. Once again, as things stand, we have no right to intervene, and no way of doing so. These husbands and wives suspecting one another – I’m sure there are thousands of them all around us ….’

As Murielle Wenger has pointed out,[see below Maigret of the Month: May, 2008], with this novel begins a series of rather atypical Maigrets,  among which we can find the following titles:  Maigret aux Assises, 1960 (Maigret in Court); Maigret hésite, 1968 (Maigret Hesitates), and Maigret et le Tueur, 1969 (Maigret and the Killer). A series of books that are more “psychological” than a police fiction, strictly speaking. A set of novels that reflect the taste of the times and, most probably, Simenon’s own interest on these issues. Which, by the way, is not at odds with a certain dose of sense of humour.

‘A few years previously he had had an inspector who was just out of university and who had been with the Police Judiciaire for only a few months. He probably worked for a legal firm now. He has read Freud, Adler and a few others and had been so influenced by them that he claimed to be able to explain any case that came in with reference to psychoanalysis.
During his brief stay at the Police Judiciaire he had made one mistake after the other, and his colleagues had nicknamed him Inspector Complex.’

It can be highlighted as well that I have enjoyed very much this story about a marriage that went wrong, its rather unusual structure and a greater psychological depth of the characters. The plot is intelligent and well-constructed, the story is nicely told and, although its pace is somehow slow, the tension increases inevitably. Maigret, or rather Simenon, dares to criticise the legal  system. A criticism that in my view, has lost none of its topically, despite the time elapsed.

The people in the public prosecutor’s office – prosecutors, deputy prosecutors, examining magistrates – almost all of them belong to the middle, if not the upper strata of the bourgeoisie. Their lifestyle, after purely theoretical studies, barely brought them into contact, except in their practice, with the people they were meant to pursue in the name of society. 
Hence their almost congenital lack of understanding of certain problems, an irritating attitude in the face of certain cases which the men of the Police Judiciaire, who lived so to speak, in permanent and almost physical intimacy with the criminal world, assessed instinctively.
There was also a tendency on the part of the Palais de Justice to be a little hypocritical. In spite of an apparent much-discussed independence, they were more susceptible than most to a ministerial frown, and if a case that had stirred public opinion dragged a little, they hounded the police, who could never move quickly enough. It was up to the police to come up with a strategy and use the appropriate methods.
But if the newspapers criticized those methods,the magistrates of the public prosecutor’s office would hurry to take them to task.

In essence,  Maigret’s Doubts is generally considered one of Maigret best novels, probably by the great variety of elements that contains, that are not always present in other of the books in this series. And, therefore, I highly recommend.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Georges Simenon was born in Liège, Belgium. At sixteen he began work as a journalist on the Gazette de Liège. He moved to Paris in 1922 and became a prolific writer of popular fiction, working under a number of pseudonyms. In 1931 he published the first of the novels featuring Maigret, his most famous and enduring creation. (Source: Fantastic Fiction)

About the translator: Shaun Whiteside has translated over 50 books from German, French, Italian and Dutch, including novels by Amélie Nothomb, Luther Blissett, Wu Ming and Marcel Möring. His translations of Freud, Musil, Schnitzler and Nietzsche are published by Penguin Classics, and his translation of Magdalena the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger won the 1996 Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize. A former chair of the Translators Association, he sits on the editorial board of New Books in German and the Advisory Panel of the British Centre for Literary Translation, where he regularly teaches at the summer school. He lives in London with his wife and son. (Source: Institut Francaise, Royaume-Uni)

Maigret’s Doubts has been reviewed at A Penguin a week,

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page 

Les Scrupules de Maigret 

Maigret of the Month: May, 2008

Tout Maigret

Los escrúpulos de Maigret, de Georges Simenon

Descripción del libro: Cuando el vendedor de unos grandes almacenes de París le confía sus temores secretos a Maigret, el comisario pronto queda atrapado en un traicionero conficto entre marido y mujer que no es tan claro como parece.

Mientras que a esa hora del día anterior todavía no había oído hablar de los Martons, el especialista en modelos a escala de trenes empezaba a obsesionarle, y también la elegante joven que, reconoce, le había aguantado valientemente, cuando hizo todo lo posible por desconcertarla.

Mi opinión: En uno de esos días poco habituales, a principios de enero, cuando no pasa nada y todo está tranquilo en Quai des Orfèvres, Maigret recibe la visita de un hombre que cree que su esposa quiere envenenarlo. Sin embargo, el personaje en cuestión desaparece rápidamente cuando Maiget lo deja solo por un momento y, a su regreso, Maigret debe poner en marcha todos sus recursos para averiguar su nombre y dirección. Esa misma tarde, su esposa se presenta ante Maigret y le explica que su marido sufre alucinaciones y es ella la que teme por su vida. Maigret se pregunta quién está diciendo la verdad. Y Maigret se sentirá obligado a investigar un crimen que aún no ha ocurrido y en el que hasta ese momento se desconoce la identidad de la víctima. Un caso que Maigret decide investigar incluso en contra de la recomendación del juez de instrucción Coméliau, que había sido algo así como su cordial enemigo durante más de veinte años. .

“… Si quieres saber lo que realmente pienso [dijo el fiscal], estás siendo demasiado escrupuloso. En tu lugar, Maigret, yo abandonaría el caso. De nuevo, tal y como están las cosas, no tenemos derecho a intervenir, y no hay forma de hacerlo. Maridos y esposas que sospechan el uno al otro; estoy seguro de que hay miles de ellos alrededor nuestro … ‘

Como ha señalado Murielle Wenger, [ver en Maigret del mes: mayo de 2008], con esta novela comienza una serie de Maigrets bastante poco habituales, entre las que podemos encontrar los siguientes títulos: Maigret aux Assises, 1960 (Maigret en la audiencia) ; Maigret hésite, 1968 (Maigret vacila), y Maigret et le Tueur, 1969 (Maigret y el asesino). Una serie de libros que son más “psicológicos” que investigaciones policíales en sentido estricto. Un conjunto de novelas que reflejan el gusto de la época y, muy probablemente, el propio interés de Simenon por estos temas. Lo cual, por cierto, no está en desacuerdo con una cierta dosis de sentido de humor.

“Unos años antes había tenido un inspector que acababa de salir de la universidad y que había estado con la Policía Judicial solo durante unos meses. Probablemente ahora trabaja en una firma de abogados. Había leído a Freud, Adler y otros más  y estaba tan influido por ellos que afirmaba ser capaz de explicar cualquier caso que surgiera por medio del psicoanálisis.
Durante su breve período en la Policía Judicial, cometió un error tras otro, y sus colegas lo apodaron inspector “Complejo”.

También se puede destacar que he disfrutado mucho esta historia sobre un matrimonio que salió mal, su estructura bastante inusual y una mayor profundidad psicológica de los personajes. La trama es inteligente y está bien construida, la historia está muy bien contada y, aunque su ritmo es algo lento, la tensión aumenta inevitablemente. Maigret, o más bien Simenon, se atreve a criticar el sistema legal. Una crítica que, en mi opinión, no ha perdido un ápice de su actualidad, a pesar del tiempo transcurrido.

Las personas en la fiscalía (fiscales, fiscales adjuntos, jueces de instrucción) casi todos pertenecen a la clae media, si no a los estratos superiores de la burguesía. Su estilo de vida, después de estudios puramente teóricos, apenas los pone en contacto, excepto en su práctica, con las personas a las que deben perseguir en nombre de la sociedad.
De ahí su casi congénita falta de comprensión de ciertos problemas, una actitud irritante frente a ciertos casos que los hombres de la Policía Judiciai, que vivían por así decirlo, en intimidad permanente y casi física con el mundo criminal, valoran intuitivamente.
También había una tendencia por parte del Palaicio de Justice a ser un poco hipócritas. A pesar de una aparente independencia muy discutida, eran más susceptibles que la mayoría a un gesto del Ministerio, y si un caso que hubiese llamado la atención de la opinión pública se resistiese un poco, acusarían  a la policía, de no moverse más rápidamente. Correspondiendo a la policía idear una estrategia y usar los métodos apropiados.
Pero si los periódicos criticasen esos métodos, los magistrados de la fiscalía se apresurarían a llamarles la atención.

En resumidas cuentas, Los escrúpulos de Maigret suele estár considerada como una de las mejores novelas de Maigret, probablemente por la gran variedad de elementos que contiene, que no siempre están presentes en otros libros de esta serie. Y, por lo tanto, lo recomiendo encarecidamente.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon nació en Lieja, Bélgica. A los dieciséis años comenzó a trabajar como periodista en la Gazette de Lieja. Se trasladó a viivir a París en 1922 y se convirtió en un prolífico escritor de novelas populares utilizando una gran variedad de seudónimos. En 1931 publicó la primera de las novelas cprotagonizadas por Maigret, su creación más famosa y perdurable. (Fuente: Fastastic Fiction)

Why is the Golden Age fashionable again? by Martin Edwards

Though it may not be necessary to make an introduction of Martin Edwards in this blog, it is timely to show here a brief overview of his profile, taken from his website.

Martin Edwards was born at Knutsford, Cheshire and educated in Northwich and at Balliol College, Oxford University, taking a first class honours degree in law. He trained as a solicitor in Leeds and moved to Liverpool on qualifying. He published his first legal article at the age of 25 and his first book, about legal aspects of buying a business computer at 27, before a career as an equity partner of a law firm, where he is now a consultant. He is married to Helena with two children (Jonathan and Catherine) and lives in Lymm. A member of the Murder Squad, collective of crime writers, Martin is Vice Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association and in 2015 he was elected eighth President of the Detection Club. He is also Archivist of the CWA and of the Detection Club.

Martin Edwards first novel, All the Lonely People, introduced Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin and was published in 1991, earning a nomination for the John Creasey Memorial Dagger for best first crime novel of the year. To date, Edwards has written eight novels about Devlin; the most recent is Waterloo Sunset (2008). The Coffin Trail (2004) was the first of seven books set in the Lake District (The Lake District Mysteries) featuring Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett and historian Daniel Kind; it was short-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for best crime novel of 2006. The Arsenic Labyrinth (2007) was short-listed for the Lakeland Book of the Year Award in 2008. The Hanging Wood (2011) was long-listed for both the Audible Sounds of Crime Award and the Ebook Award at Crimefest 2012. Edwards has also written a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away (2002), and completed The Lazarus Widow by the late Bill Knox. 2008 also saw the publication of his first historical novel, Dancing for the Hangman, a fictional account of the life and misadventures of Hawley Harvey Crippen. (Source: Wikipedia). Follow his blog: Do You Write Under Your Own Name? Find him on Twitter: @medwardsbooks Author’s Website: http://www.martinedwardsbooks.com/index.htm

20170220_141005I’m recalling all this because I’m looking forward to meeting Martin Edwards in Madrid during the course of this week. He will be giving the inaugural lecture at an International Congress on detective novel, entitled Why is the Golden Age fashionable again? I’m confident I will be able to attend and I hope to be able to greet him personally.

Fortunately I have just received my copy of The Golden Age of Murder (Harper Collins, 2016, paperback edition), that I have started to read right now. For this reason I’m taking a break on my reading schedule and I’m reading as well The Serpent Pool, The Lake District Mysteries #4 (Allison & Busby, 2010). Stay tuned.

About The Golden Age of Murder: Winner of the 2016 EDGAR, AGATHA, MACAVITY and H.R.F.KEATING crime writing awards, this real-life detective story investigates how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction. Detective stories of the Twenties and Thirties have long been stereotyped as cosily conventional. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Golden Age of Murder tells for the first time the extraordinary story of British detective fiction between the two World Wars. A gripping real-life detective story, it investigates how Dorothy L. Sayers, Anthony Berkeley, Agatha Christie and their colleagues in the mysterious Detection Club transformed crime fiction. Their work cast new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets, and their complex and sometimes bizarre private lives. (HarperCollinsPublishers publicity page)

About The Serpent Pool: DCI Hannah Scarlett is determined to uncover the truth behind Emily Friend’s mysterious drowning in the Serpent’s Pool. Though the evidence at the time did not rule out suicide, why would Emily, so afraid of water, choose drowning to end it all? Hannah has to face distraction though with a new sergeant with a troublesome reputation, a new house, and new cause to doubt her partner, Marc Amos. Historian Daniel Kind has just returned from America and is hard at work on a new book. Meeting with Hannah again, they can’t help but make connections between Emily’s death and two recent murders which struck close to home. (Allison & Busby publicity page)

Film Notes: The Age of Shadows, 2016 (Original title: “Miljeong”) directed by Kim Jee-woon

KR / 140 min / Color / Grimm Pictures, Warner Bros Korea  Dir: Kim Jee-woon Pro: Kim Jee-woon, Choi Jaeweon Scr: Lee Jimin, Park Jongdae Cine: Kim Jiyong Mus: Mowg Cast: Song Kang-ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-min, Park Hee-soon, Um Tae-goo, Shin Sung-rok, Shingo Tsurumi, Park Hee-soon, Seo Young-joo, Han Soo-yeon, Yoo Jae-sang, Lee Soo-kwang, Kim Dong-young, Lee Byung-hun. Synopsis: Set in the late 1920s, The Age of Shadows follows the cat-and-mouse game that unfolds between a group of resistance fighters led by Gong’s character, trying to bring in explosives from Shanghai to destroy key Japanese facilities in Seoul, and Japanese agents trying to stop them. Song plays a talented Korean-born Japanese police officer who was previously in the independence movement himself and is thrown into a dilemma between the demands of his reality and the instinct to support a greater cause.  Release Dates: 3 September 2016 (Venice Film Festival), 7 September 2016 (South Korea), 27 January 2017 (Spain – limited) Spanish title: El imperio de las sombras IMDb Rating: 7.3.

A few days ago, Begoña and I had the opportunity to see this film, with a limited release in Spanish cinemas. It’s an action driven, spy thriller, which I very much liked. Despite its extent, two hours and 20 minutes, it kept me all the time attentive to the screen and I very much enjoyed it. The storyline, based on real events, is very nicely narrated in a very cinematographic and dramatic way. Some scenes may hurt the sensibilities of some part of the public, but the images don’t extend unnecessarily on them.

Korean superstars Song Kang-ho, Han Ji-min, and Gong Yoo headline the latest from cutting-edge director Kim Jee woon (The Good, the Bad, the Weird), an epic-scale period thriller about a double agent sent to infiltrate a band of freedom fighters during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1920s.

Set at the end of the 1920s during the Japanese occupation of Korea, The Age of Shadows is an epic period drama, a gripping thriller, and an engaging spy story. Kim Jee woon’s film brings together a cast of marvellous actors, including Song Kang ho and Gong Yoo, to tell a tale of friendship and vengeance.

Lee Jung-chool (Song Kang ho), a Korean working for the Japanese police, is tasked with exposing the Korean resistance’s second-in-command, Kim Woo-jin (Gong Yoo). To gather intelligence on the group, Lee starts to hang out with Kim, who runs a photography studio as a cover for his underground activities. But after coming in close contact with the rebel fighters, some of whom were once his friends, Lee’s mind is clouded by doubts about his dirty work for the occupying forces. Lee’s allegiances shift, his employers begin to suspect him, and now he is both hunter and hunted. In a breathtaking sequence set on a train carrying explosives from Shanghai to Korea, Lee helps the freedom fighters uncover a traitor among them and get to their destination — where a cruel destiny awaits.

In the complex role of a secret agent poised between two worlds, Song delivers an amazing performance that finds time for moments of soul-searching amidst the action and excitement. Rising Korean star Gong does what is arguably his best work yet as the stern, caring, and beloved leader of the freedom fighters. Highly entertaining even as it shines light on a dark period of recent Korean history, Kim Jee woon’s The Age of Shadows is the work of a versatile visual stylist who is justifiably one of Korea’s most prominent film directors. (Giovanna Fulvi) Source: Toronto International Film Festival

Director’s Statement: It all started with my attraction to spy movies. I feel an allure towards double agents or double spies, who with their divided identities act in secret while surrounded by enemies, standing at the borders of their turbulent age. There are so many film masterpieces set in Western countries during the Cold War. But the thought occurred to me that Korea, whose contemporary history is no less dramatic than that of the Cold War, could serve as an effective setting for a spy movie. …… Using the genre elements of the spy movie, I wanted to depict the secret enmity and conciliation that lay beneath an operation to transport explosives from Shanghai to Seoul, and the efforts of a Korean in the Japanese police force to stop them. In one sense, I wanted to capture the image of people navigating the tightrope between support for or resistance to Japanese colonial rule, and being swept up in the consequences of setting one’s foot down on either side of the line. I tried to capture both the atmosphere of that era, and the manner in which it pressed down on those who lived through it, wherever they might go. On the day before we started shooting, I visited the former office of the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai. It was so small that the bathroom was located right next to the dinner table. I wanted to suffuse the film with the emotion I felt, learning about the struggles of independence fighters who endeavored to reclaim the spirit of people who had lost their country. I hope that viewers can enjoy this story about the people who lived through that era.

Director Biography: One of Korea’s greatest film stylists, whose innovative take on film genres has brought him worldwide acclaim, Kim Jee-woon is always pushing in new directions. His debut The Quiet Family ingeniously fused horror and comedy in a film that skirts the boundaries of commercial cinema. The Foul King, about a harassed banker who takes up pro wrestling in his spare time, was the film that made a star out of Song Kang-ho. With its stunning visuals and challenging story, A Tale of Two Sisters is recognized as one of the most influential Korean horror films ever. This was followed up by the elegant, brutal noir A Bittersweet Life, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The eclectic “Kimchi Western” The Good, the Bad, the Weird stands out as both a popular hit and an utterly unique contribution to Korean cinema, while gory revenge drama I Saw the Devil carried Kim into uncharted genre waters. With his contribution to the omnibus film Doomsday Book, Kim tackled the SF genre, while The Last Stand took him to Hollywood to work with Arnold Schwarzenegger. With The Age of Shadows, his first film in three years, Kim at last takes his singular vision to the spy genre. Set in the 1920s, during the Japanese occupation of Korea, the film depicts a group of resistance fighters and Japanese police agents locked in a struggle in which one cannot identify one’s foes and allies. The Age of Shadows depicts the tragic fates of those who operated in a grey area during a painful chapter in Korean history.

The Hollywood Reporter Film Review