Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net

Park Syeyoung’s The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra follows the life of a fungus-filled mattress. As gross as that may sound, there is something intrinsically beautiful about it too. The mattress absorbs human frustration, sadness, and loneliness, starting with a couple that just can’t hear each other out. After they break up, the mattress lands in the hands of new owners.

The growing fungus likes to gnaw on the 5th thoracic vertebra, which is around the height in the human spine that protects the heart and lungs. It’s clear that the characters’ stories breathe and reverberate with the pain of loss, but also the excitement of survival. And this mattress-dwelling creature is not so different.

There are moments where the film turns experimental art-house, with rapidly cycled still images to depict the passing of time. Park uses tight framing on faces, skin texture, hair, and fabric. This captures the intimacy not only between humans, but also between humans and the mattress.

The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra‘s concept relates the ups and downs of human relationships to the natural phenomena of mushrooms aka fungi, and their mycelium network. Fungi in nature join all the plants even in the most vast forests. They’ve been on this planet longer than humans have. And indeed, they’ll likely outlive us.

What a strange little film.

And that’s a compliment.


The Fifth Thoracic Vertebra – July 26th, 2022, 7:15 PM

See the Official Fantasia Website for specific ticketing details.