Director: Lee Dong-eun
Cast: Lim Soo-jung, Yoon Chan-young, Lee Sang-hee
Film genre: Drama
Cert 15, 107 mins, 2017
Distributed by Finecut
Last year’s In Between Seasons was no fluke: Lee Dong-eun’s second feature gets to grips with the complexities of the parent-child bond even more searchingly, and to even more moving effect. We’re in Cheongju, a medium-sized town where Hyojin runs a small primary school which isn’t doing too well. For reasons we don’t need to go into here, she’s more or less forced to become the guardian of a ‘difficult’ teenage boy, the son (by another mother) of her late ex-husband. The boy, Jongwook, is emotionally inarticulate in the way that male teens often are and he treats Hyojin as a virtual stranger; without telling her, he goes looking for the birth-mother who abandoned him. And then his friend Joomi carelessly gets herself pregnant and starts planning to have the baby and give it up for adoption. The film’s intricate plotting dovetails the ambivalent feelings which govern these lives and asks: is parenting purely biological, or something more?