After five short movies (including “Guest”, that won the Grand Prix at the Festival du Court-Métrage de Clermont-Ferrand in 2012), Yoon Ga-Eun presents her first feature, “The World of Us”. The filmmaker is currently in post-production for her second feature: “The House of Us”.
The film immerses us in the life of Sun, a 10-years old girl. She lives with her little brother. She goes to elementary school, and, despite trying to make friends, she is not really accepted by her classmates. As summer vacation starts, she meets Ji-Ah, who recently moved into town. They quickly bond. But school starts over and peer pressure makes things more complicated. The two girls’ friendship is disrupted.
Summarizing the movie as an amazing exploration of childhood would be unfair. Indeed, “The World of Us” not only brilliantly tackles youth, but it actually shows human beings, relationships and group dynamic in a delicate, true and authentic -as much as fiction can be- way.
Perhaps one of the reasons childhood is so well depicted in the movie, is that the filmmaker doesn’t fall into the trap of minimizing the protagonists’ feelings because they are children. The emotions are as raw and ambiguous as any grown-ups’. This not only changes from the too-often-seen simplistic representation of children, but also allows any viewer to put herself/himself/themself/aerself/eirself/xemself/hirself/faerself/perself/verself/etc (sorry for the ones I forgot) in the characters’ shoes. For example, who, both growing-up and as an adult, hasn’t felt rejected? Or trying to belong? Or not quite understanding of a given relationship?
Another strength of the scenario is that it shows how non-romantic friendships can be intense, hurtful, joyful, ambiguous. These strong bonds are usually depicted in amorous relationships, or in family matters. It brings a breath of fresh air to have a less usual and underrated angle to relationships.
The movie wouldn’t work without the outstanding performance of the young actors. Choi Soo-In (playing Sun) is as nuanced, intense, believable, as Emma Thompson in pretty much anything (I know most people would go for Meryl Streep, but what can I say? I really have a thing for Emma Thompson). Sun is likeable and the audience feels empathetic towards her.
Visually-wise, it is worth noting that Yoon Ga-Eun’s feature explores spaces in an interesting way.
In conclusion, “The World of Us” is definitely worth-watching, foresees a bright cinematic future for Yoon Ga-Eun, and makes us look eagerly forward to her next project.