What comes out strong from Min Yong-guen's melancholy independent film was Hyehwa's (played by Yoo Da-in) character that was difficult to understand. It instilled intrigue and throughout the film, all we were concerned with was Hyehwa's personality as we yearned to learn more of her. The mood played out slow and dense to immerse the characters and the audience in gloom until redeeming itself in high drama during its climatic final act.
An encounter with an abandoned memory, Can she possibly retrieve the bygone time? Hyehwa and Hansoo were in love when they were 18 years old in high school. However, Hansoo disappeared without a word after finding out she was pregnant. 5 years later Hansoo shows up in front of her. He asks her for forgiveness and tells her that their baby they thought were dead is alive. Hyehwa does not believe what he says due to the wound she is still getting over but she is helplessly swayed hearing the child has been adopted.
As an independent film production, it didn't feel like one. The shots were seemingly well-planned and apt in evoking the right sentiments within the audience.
Some of the shots were handheld, but wasn't hasty in nature to instill that slurred feel that was common in people during their low moments. Surprising for a film that's this gloomy, the lighting wasn't dimmed to an extraordinary level.
What made this film felt so dense and gloom, was to my pleasant surprise the lead actress Yoo's impeccable portrayal (well-directed by Min) of a tough-to-understand personality (also very well-scripted by Min) in the form of Hyehwa.
Hyehwa was the kind of lady who seemed to be aloft and emotionless throughout her life, until certain flashbacks of her better days with Hansoo during their college years. It was a total switch from hot to cold, a drastic change in Hyehwa's personality must have been preceded by a life-changing event or experience.
Indeed, it was.
What happened between Hansoo and Hyehwa wasn't elaborated clearly in narration, but was instantly felt and understood during their first meet in a run-down house. Their demeanour strongly suggested a prior encounter of sorrow and grievance, a great example of how good films should express themselves with little notions.
The storytelling was done mostly through the cast without much said by them, which complemented the dense atmosphere and scenario that the film intended for.
Hyehwa was felt by the audience as a strong personality. During her earlier years, she was such a demanding and loud character in life. After her bad episode with Hansoo, she receded into a shell of void emptiness as if she would commit her eternal life in there.
The transition wasn't easy, thus kudos to Yoo for playing Hyehwa so well.
Hansoo had been the wretched character who was weak in every aspect in the eyes of the audience. He was a man who doesn't know how to take firm control of his life and often allowed others to dictate his course and doings. That happened before, and now he's trying to make things right for Hyehwa.
The only question that would be burning in your mind at the end of the film would be, whether somethings in life could be amended and compensated for at a later stage in life. Would a re-encounter in life be the same as the one you've experienced before?
Nostalgia might hit you hard in your senses initially, but some things done cannot be undone.