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In Korean with English Subtitles
Director: Ounie Lecomte
Sae Ron Kim, Do Yeon Park, Ah-sung Ko, Myeong-shin Park, Man-seok Oh, Kyung-gu Sol, Seong-kun Mun, Hyun-joo Baek
RunTime: 1 hr 32 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: PG

Official Website: http://www.diaphana.fr/fiche.php?pkfilms=182

Opening Day: 17 June 2010


A stunning debut, French-Korean Ounie Lecomte's semi-autobiographical tale is a thoroughly unmanipulative drama that could easily have been overplayed, but isn't. Produced by master Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-Dong, this is a powerful film about a nine year-old girl who is unceremonially abondoned by her father at a Catholic orphan. Shocked, bitter and still holding onto the hopes of being reclaimed, she soon learns how to cope with her new life though a friend. Young Kim Sae-ron is heartbreakingly sympathetic as the lead actress.

Movie Review:

How does it feel to yearn for a brand new life? Different people will tell you different things, but you would be the only person to know when you are going through a difficult stage of your time, and you would do anything to get a new lease of life to experience something more hopeful. While we each have gone through different ups and downs, we are glad that all it takes is for a well made and heartfelt film like this one to give you an inkling on what it feels like to experience hope again.

Set in 1975 Seoul, the protagonist of the film is a nine year old girl who gets left in an orphanage after her father remarries. At her new home, she learns to come to terms of how her loved ones have abandoned her, and grapples with the possibility of being adopted by a new family. Along the way, there are friendships made, self realisations enlightened, and most importantly, adjustments to a brand new life ahead.

This French South Korean production is inspired by Ounie Lecomte, who directed and wrote the film. You can feel the story’s emotional power as the first time filmmaker has put in a lot of heart to tell her own life experience. The initial abandonment and the struggles that followed will quietly touch your heart. It also helps that child actor Sae Ron Kim is a wide eyed girl who is unassumingly hopeful that her life will change for the better. There are moments when you can sense her desperation of wanting her father to come back for her, and there are moments when you can sense her struggles to come to grips with life’s harsh realities. The young actress was nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2010 Asian Film Awards.

That is not the only prestige the film has garnered. It has been screened at several international film festivals to raving reviews, even picking up a Special Mention Best Feature Film prize at the Berlin Internaional Film Festival and a Best Asian Film Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Lecomte’s sensitive storytelling approach does not result in tear jerking melodrama. Instead, the film takes on a low key but powerful method to stimulate your senses. Images of burying a dead bird, hugging a faceless man on a bicycle in the dark, and religious monuments in the orphanage are all indications that Lecomte does not take her audiences as unintelligent beings – she wants her viewers to feel the emotions from the heart. And she does not employ grand cinematography or fancy editing tricks to catch your attention, as you’d notice from the film’s straightforward camerawork and the simple cuts.

There are side plots involving a limp girl who wishes to love like a normal human being and an expressive girl who profusely auditions in front of potential Western parents, which help to shed light on other lives in the orphanage. The 92 minute film never rushes to tell its story, because every moment is unobtrusive and sincere. You may shed a few sad tears at certain parts of the filmmakers semi autobiography, but when the film credits roll a after halting final shot at the airport, you’d have gone on a trip and travelled a worthy journey of real heartfelt emotions.

Movie Rating:

(A sincere and heartfelt film that truly moves you)

Review by John Li


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