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Short Film Review: A Winter Glove (2021) by Lee Hyeon-ju

"May I ask why you want to learn?"

The Korean indie film industry is dominated by a specific style, which is much reminiscent of the one Hong Sang-soo implements in his movies. As such, it is quite a pleasant occasion, when filmmakers stray away from this path, presenting their own approach. 's “” is one of these films. 

A Winter Glove is screening at Osaka Asian Film Festival

The story revolves around In-kyung, a piano teacher at a private academy in Seoul. She lives a content life, enjoying the time spent teaching her students and having a harmonic relationship with her boyfriend. However, when he announces that he has accepted a job in Japan, essentially not including her in his decision, her world turns upside down. In order to feel somewhat connected to him still, she decides to start learning Japanese, although not even she is sure of the reasons for doing so. At the same time, a male student asks her for piano lessons, wishing to play and sing in his upcoming wedding. 

The glove of the title has a significant meaning for the film, as it presents a memory In-kyung carries, regarding the time spent in Kyoto with her boyfriend, who however, does not seem to remember at all, essentially highlighting the difference in the way each one interprets their relationship. Furthermore, the glove is also implemented in another moment, in order to highlight the difference in her interactions with her student, in a rather intelligent “trick” the director implements.

Furthermore, in a rather measured and highly realistic way, Lee Hyeon-ju shows how difficult it is to really know people, even in close relationships, as the whole concept with In-kyung's boyfriend highlights. In this case, that he does not take it as seriously as she does is painfully obvious, also because he seems to take no part in one of the most important aspects of her life, music. Thus, when another man becomes part of that aspect of her life, In-kyung, in conjunction with her boyfriend's behavior, cannot but feel a connection with her student, a feeling that crawls into her without even realizing it. The moment she does, however, is one of the most memorable in the short, essentially highlighting the subtle and intelligent overall approach Lee implements here. 

Lastly, the fact that she is a piano teacher, allows Lee to make another comment, about the hardships tutors in general face, but also to implement music in the narrative in a rather organic way, in another very smart “trick”. Jeon Shi-hyoung's slightly polished cinematography is also on a very high level, with his camera capturing the brief gazes and gestures where all the meaning here is hidden within, in the most artful way. Kim Tae-young and Lee's own editing induce the movie with a relatively slow pace, which works quite well for the overall narrative. 

as In-kyung gives a rather measured, subtle, and convincing performance as In-kyung, in perfect harmony with the movie's aesthetics. 

“A Winter Glove” is an excellent short, particularly for the intelligent ways Lee implements in order to present her story and her comments.

About the author

Panos Kotzathanasis

My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia.

Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute.

In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres.

You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

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