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The House of Suh2011

  • 4.2
One of Chicago's most famous murder cases surrounded sister and brother Catherine and Andrew Suh, first-generation Korean Americans, who conspired against, shot and killed Catherine's former boyfriend. Over a decade later, director Iris Shim revisits the case and opens a Pandora's box of family secrets that reveal the murder to be anything but black and white. What emerges is a riveting and tragic portrait of a troubled family, which sheds light on the psychological complexity of cultural assimilation.

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1 member likes this review

An unusual film in the sense that there is a blurring of lines when it comes to apportioning guilt in the case.

We learn of the domestic injustices committed against Catherine ( and possibly Andrew with regards to the murder of his mother ) that prevent us from viewing them as monsters yet they did conspire to commit first degree murder.

The film acts as a reminder that reality usually comes in varying shades of gray instead of absolutes of black and white.

Acc79a52601d28812b2d93da7666072f?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0082
top reviewer

Member Reviews (6)

Acc79a52601d28812b2d93da7666072f?default=https%3a%2f%2fd3uc4wuqnt61m1.cloudfront.net%2fassets%2favatars%2fmale%2favatar m 0082
top reviewer

An unusual film in the sense that there is a blurring of lines when it comes to apportioning guilt in the case.

We learn of the domestic injustices committed against Catherine ( and possibly Andrew with regards to the murder of his mother ) that prevent us from viewing them as monsters yet they did conspire to commit first degree murder.

The film acts as a reminder that reality usually comes in varying shades of gray instead of absolutes of black and white.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Iris Shim's The House Of Suh (2010) is an extraordinarily well thought out, and well executed documentary. It obviously required a lot of preparation, research, and the finding and interviewing of the many relevant "witnesses" to the story told here.

Although the film does evoke some sympathy in me for Andrew Suh, the bottom line is that is that he was no weak minded puppet when he committed this premeditated murder. He was an already well educated, articulate 19 year old man who was certainly aware of the world around him, and of his viable choices, and options in life. In spite of the "cultural sob story" that this film so dramatically and so effectively spins for Andrew, he is a cold blooded killer. That he killed Robert for murdering his mother rather than to go to the police to report what his sister told him about Robert, was a moral choice that he alone made for himself. His failure to go to the police because of apprehensions of implicating his sister in his mother's murder was again a moral choice that he alone made for himself.

Although Andrew's sister isn't a participant in this very provocative film, it seems clear that she, unlike Andrew, suffers from serious, long term mental issues, and may even be a true psychopath who had no more remorse in manipulating her brother to kill her fiance than she had in remorsely manipulating all the other people in her life. As such, the "cultural sob story" related in this story probably is less relevant to her behavior than to her brother Andrew's.

Many True Crime documentaries take the same tack, to varying degrees, that this film does in trying to explain, or even rationalize a criminal's actions in terms of elements in his environment, particularly in his family life as a child. But what all such True Crime documentaries fail to consider is that MANY other people endured the same environmental, and cultural pressures as do the criminals in question without ever resorting to serious crimes. Although there were negative cultural aspects to the upbringing of this brother and sister, they were both well fed, well provided for, well educated, and apparently not the victims of sexual abuse, or severe physical abuse in their upbringing. In short, there are MANY people in this world who have had a far less happy childhood than these two people who NEVER went on to commit murder, or any other serious crime.

Overall, I am still appreciative of this fine example of filmmaking, and I am certainly fortunate to have had a chance to see it. Iris Shim has a very sparse filmography at IMDb.com, which is unfortunate because she really knows what she is doing as a documentarian.

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top reviewer

A most amazing documentary. Superbly done!

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top reviewer

damn what a pathetic twisted story, I take one star off cause I wasn't enamored of the style of this doc but very very affecting.

This is a tragic story certainly, but the movie doesn't tell it. we never hear the sister's story. we never understand the culture, though we are told about it...sadly for all concerned

prety interesting. i knew nothing about this crime, now i know everything. the suh sister was a real dragon lady.