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Film Review: I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK:

Having an identity crisis? Afraid you're actually made of metal and circuits? Don't worry, you're not alone. In Chan-wook Park’s 2006 film, I'm a Cyborg, But That’s OK, a young woman named Cha Young-goon played by Su-jeong Lim, is fairly certain she is a cyborg, and we follow her exploration of this new identity, that mostly takes place in a mental health institution.

With its pop art brightness and whimsical score, this film can on the surface appear as a comedy with whacky characters and strange, out of this world concepts. But in reality, I'm a Cyborg, But That’s OK has so much depth you can drown in it if you're not paying enough attention.

At first, it appears to deal with mental illness in the same way that society does, by putting all the "crazy people" into one place, away from the rest of the world where they can quietly live out their days in peace. Jagged and imaginatively damaged characters are introduced, such as the man with no identity, who mimics the symptoms of others around him because he fears he himself will disappear. Or the man who constantly blames himself for deeds that he has no hand in, and so apologises to everyoneconstantly and walks everywhere backwards.

Most intriguing though, is Cha Young-goon, certain that she is merely a machine who can communicate with electrical devices, and can only survive by licking batteries and never eating real food.

But this isn't just a tale about quirky characters with vague hints at mental illness. It is an unpredictable romance with heart-breaking depth and humour; two concepts that are often difficult to pull off with perfect balance, and rarely seen to be successfully portrayed in films trying to deal with the complexities of mental health.

I'm a Cyborg, But That’s OK also spreads its multi-coloured wings and draws on concepts like family histories with mental health, personal identity in society, and even the treatments given to those suffering with mental illness.

Ultimately though, it provides a welcome message about accepting yourself as you are, with your struggles and your sadness; warts, circuits and all.

Written by Maame Blue


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