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Same Old

average rating is 4 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Oct 31, 2022

Film Reviews
Same Old
Directed by:
Lloyd Lee Choi
Written by:
Lloyd Lee Choi
Limin Wang, Mingjie Li, Lei Han

In Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, The Joker famously states that everyone is just ‘one bad day’ away from insanity. If that was true, New York City delivery drivers would have formed the Legion of Doom by now. In Lloyd Lee Choi’s Same Old, we see one driver’s particularly bad day play out in darkly amusing yet dramatic fashion.


The short film follows Lu (Limin Wang) who delivers food around Manhattan on his electric bicycle. As night falls, a series of increasingly frustrating setbacks threaten to drive him to the limit – ranging from the death of his goldfish, his bike being stolen, his wedding ring being proven fake, and more. In the face of adversity, Lu is forced to call upon his own resilience and ingenuity to make it through the day.


Same Old is a Korean production that pays tribute to the oft-ignored workers who keep the modern, consumerist world running, as well as the fortitude of the everyman who couldn’t be blamed for thinking the world is out to get him. Nothing that occurs to Lu in the story is especially extraordinary, yet the series of misadventures he falls victim too over the course of one night would be enough to push anyone to the brink. The character’s stoicism despite his setbacks, and creativity in finding ways around his problems (including ways which break the law…) are presented neutrally – yet the reasoning behind these upon the film’s conclusion makes its key message clear – that people who take on the thankless, menial and taken-for-granted roles are as deserving of respect and kindness as anyone else.


The film presents in subject in an almost documentary-style, making interestingly little effort to guide the audience into feeling one way or another towards Lu. His morally questionable actions on the night in question can easily be seen as a desperate man doing what he must to survive, or those of someone whose ethics are descending in-line with the world around him. Similarly, Lu’s stiff-upper-lip at the film’s conclusion when his wife asks him about his day can be interpreted as an admirable example of endurance, or a sombre case of someone who has accepted their poor hand in life, and refuses to unload their stress. These unspoken-yet-evident details within the film demonstrate an impressive depth, as well as Lloyd Lee Choi’s confidence in his own storytelling and respect for his audience.


New York City is presented as a dark, intimidating labyrinth – don’t expect any trademark shots of the Empire State here. Dark lighting and foreboding sound design show that this is an unwelcoming place for Lu, and the constant uncertainty of the streets and ever-present danger of the traffic means viewers will never quite feel settled – mirroring Lu’s own place in the world. The mostly static camera adds to the sense that the world does not change for its inhabitants – it’s they who do the moving. And a grainy filter over the film harkens to classic cinema such as Taxi Driver, and its similarly grim environment that seems to invite darkness and misfortune.


Despite all of this, Lu’s strength and indifference in the face of the Kafkaesque misery that falls upon his shoulders has its amusing side – and this pays off in a largely heart-warming, if melancholic final scene. Same Old’s brilliance in taking such a simple story concept and yet embodying it with many, often contrasting themes and interpretations is what makes it a worthy watch – even if you’re having one of those bad days.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, World Cinema
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