INNOCENT WITNESS (증인) (2019)
SYNOPSIS: An old man suffering from depression is found dead, and his housekeeper, Mi-ran, is charged with the murder. Mi-ran's defense attorney, Soon-ho, is surprised to learn the only witness to the crime is Ji-woo, a teenage girl with Asperger’s. Will Ji-woo be able to take the stand and provide a valid statement?
A housemaid is being accused of murdering her elderly employer and the only witness is an autistic teenager, Ji-woo (Kim Hyang-gi from Along with the Gods) who lives opposite them. In comes Soon-ho (Jung Woo-sung), a lawyer from a big law firm who acts for the housemaid and he is determined to uncover the truth from Ji-woo.
While majority of the plot is focused on the lawyer defending the housemaid, Innocent Witness spent a great amount of screentime on its two major important characters- Ji-woo and Soon-ho without sacrificing the narrative and gist of the main theme.
Soon-ho apparently was once a reputable lawyer who fights for human civil rights but in order to repay his family debts, he has to work in a bigger firm in the hope of securing a partnership position. Along the way, he lost the trust of the woman he loves and earns the constant nagging from his father about his single status.
On the other spectrum, Ji-woo is a smart but autistic teenager who is constantly bullied in school for her mannerisms and behaviour. Her inability to socialise and communicate with people adds on to her troubles which in turn makes her testimony in court highly unreliable. The only way it seems is to earn the trust of Ji-woo and Soon-ho has to enter her world in order to win the lawsuit.
Remarkably, Innocent Witness handles the topic of autism with much care and details. Mostly it works due to the incredible performance from Kim Hyang-gi. Without resorting to flashy tactics and happenings, the flick is indirectly telling audience to treat this form of mental disability with patience and love instead of mere scorn. Mostly, the story is effective enough to keep things interesting although the twist in the end is not exactly mind-blowing.
Despite all the seriousness, the character of Soon-ho’s elderly father contributes to some of the movie’s lighter moments and director Lee Han skilfully handles the twists and turns in the third act with much clarity and tension. Overall, this is genuinely a feel-good crime drama that features top performances from Kim Hyang-gi and one of Korea’s leading men, Jung Woo-sung. It will surely make you laugh, tear and probably empathised the plight of those who suffered from autism.
Review by Linus Tee