A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Lucid Dream, a 2017 South Korean drama, is a compelling sci-fi detective story with intermittent violence and language in which a reporter whose work has earned him enemies searches obsessively for his abducted young son. Eventually he resorts to a risky and untried technique, lucid dreaming, to help him notice clues he might have missed the day of the kidnapping three years before. Emotions are intense. A fatal car accident is shown. Characters are beaten. A dying patient receives shocks to his heart. Adults drink alcohol. Language includes "f--k." "s--t," "bastard," "bitch," and "damn," and sometimes it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. In Korean with English subtitles.
What's the story?
LUCID DREAM profiles investigative journalist Dae-ho Choi (Go Soo), still pursuing his young son's kidnappers three years after the event, certain the boy is still alive. Even though the case has gone cold, a sympathetic police detective (Kyong-gu Sul) actively investigates. Dae-ho enlists the assistance of a psychiatrist (Hye-jeong Kang) whose research into lucid dreaming may help him retrieve lost memories of details from the day of the abduction.
Is it any good?
Writer-director Jun-sung Kim skillfully creates a fast-paced, dramatic, and at times violent crime thriller. The action in Lucid Dream isn't quite as breakneck as a Jason Bourne movie, but the addition of human interactions and dreamy special effects adds a depth and level of interest above many more mechanical examples of the genre. If the three-year-old kidnap case is cold, why not have the heartbroken father enter his own dreams to look for clues he missed when his boy was snatched? And if that isn't enough, why not find a way to enter the dreams of the kidnappers? The child kidnapping case serves as a reality against which the director can exercise his sci-fi imagination and force characters to face danger in the subconscious worlds of others. The fact that actual lucid dreaming probably wouldn't be any help at all in such a case seems beside the point. The effort to find the perpetrators leads to many plot twists, and promising clues that come to a halt at dead ends and dead people. Our hopes are buoyed then dashed as the story unfolds. Just when you think the hero has found what he's looking for, the lead sours but points him elsewhere.
The genre begs for clichés and they are provided: the police detective is a reliably somber pragmatist, and a crusty old private eye provides comic relief.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how far you think you might go to find a lost loved one. Would you commit a crime to find that person? Would you sacrifice yourself, if necessary? Did Lucid Dream change your mind about any of these things?
The movie starts with a story based on the reality of an abduction and mixes it with the sci-fi of running around inside other people's dreams. How well do you think this works?
The first-time director of this film said he was inspired in part by the movie Inception. Do you think creativity is often provoked by other creative works? Why do you think that might be the case?
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