Doing its rounds this year in the festival scene is this South Korean movie which talks about family and what happens when relationships are not able to withstand the rigors of time. The camera angles were unique and mostly catered to the POV of the daughter. I felt that the faces of characters were shown only when necessary, a special talent used exceptionally well by Abbas Kiarostami. For that matter, the direction by Sol Kim & Lee Jihyoung and cinematography by Kim Jinhyeong needs special mention.
The movie starts with prospective buyers viewing a house in which a family has spend the past decade. Slowly we are let into why the property is being sold. The couple has decided to draw curtains on their marriage and want to sell the house before going their separate ways. They talk to their two children, a boy (Jinho) and a girl (Sumin) about the separation and what would be arranged for the children. There is no reason given as to why the couple has decided to pursue divorce, they just keep repeating to themselves and their children that they are not suited for each other. There are some hints though to the personal traits of the couple which may not have been acceptable for long. As they almost decide that the boy will live with the mother and girl with the father, the children (Sumin in particular) start to make their own plans.
The slow-paced progression and deep silences in between added to the uneasy circumstances, but the sulky tempo throughout may have negatively impact the creativity and novelty department. The mellow lighting though gives a very personal touch to the whole narrative.
The children and their innocence are critical to the drama and they do their bit well, especially with dialogue delivery. The story unfolds in such a way that there is little scope for the events and happenings around to be of any concern or relevance. It would have looked pretty much the same in any place or culture. There is an extreme focus on the story and emotions which may have also left the surroundings unexplored.
With each passing generation, the children are expected to be more intelligent. And in their understanding of what happens around them at home from a very early age may not always be to everyone’s advantage. A lesson for parents and the society as a whole, though this might even be a step in the direction of evolution.