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Friday, September 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 68.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Lies
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Close to the beginning of the Korean film Lies, we watch as a middle-aged sculptor anally penetrates a high school girl he's met only moments before. Designed to shock, amuse and perhaps instruct, this documentary-like account of a couple who travel to the far end of l'amour fou can't help but remind us of Last Tango in Paris and In the Realm of the Senses, but it has an unvarnished, matter-of-fact quality all its own. Its two main characters, known simply as J (Lee Sang Hyun) and Y (Kim Tae Yeon), spend most of the movie in bed, or on the floor next to the bed, or in a bathroom stall. And though they do converse, it's usually about what one of them wants the other one to do to him or her next. I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie that felt more like two people just going at it than Lies does. Next to this thing, porn seems the height of contrivance.

Never mind how they met. J, who's married but whose wife lives in Paris, was looking for someone who likes to play rough. And Y was looking for someone to deflower her. Their first session is just awkward enough to suggest real life, and it helps to know that neither of the leads has ever acted in a movie before. But director Jang Sun Woo, who's made a name for himself testing the waters of South Korea's move toward civilian government, adds to the documentary atmosphere by inserting titles like "The First Hole," "The Second Hole" and, yes, "The Third Hole." And he includes interviews with the actors, who seem a little unsure whether they can pull the whole thing off. They needn't have worried. Lies is a fascinating expedition through the private world of kink that doubles as a love story, and it's the love story, which we never really get to the bottom of, that pulls us into the vortex with J and Y.

Some will object to the use of a high school girl as a middle-aged man's sex toy. All I can say in response is that 1) she's soon in college, 2) she's soon in charge, and 3) the director obviously doesn't care if anyone objects. In the press material, Jang says the film "is about a dream of living, eating and fucking without having to work."

Dream on.

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