Donnerstag, 24. April 2014

한공주 (Han Gong-ju)

It's nice, refreshing almost, to see a movie so firmly set in the ordinary, frustrating everyday and so completely invested in the struggles of the flesh and blood as the Korean drama "한공주 (Han Gong-ju)". But this feature film debut from writer/director Lee Su-jin has problems keeping things in focus, even though what it's trying to tell is a relatively straightforward story.

Thematically, there's one too many subplots about the various people the title character meets after she's been transferred to another high school to start anew. These tidbits round out a more realistic picture of a young adult confused by the diverse fates around her, but they rarely go anywhere and serve mostly to water down the central storyline, which is actually dynamite enough all by itself. Tonally the movie also loses more than it gains from the mix of emotions these added side notes bring. It keeps you on your toes with the unexpected shifts in gears but can't properly build that necessary final blow on all these distractions.

The camerawork is impressive. Fluid in movement and expressive in composition, it also knows the trick to be truly invisible and delves right into the most intimate moments the characters experience without ever appearing intrusive. Lead actress Chun Woo-hee is fine if not outstanding as the new girl in class with an unspeakable past. She's convincing in her individual portrayals of uncertainty, hurt, suspicion, or just being young. But viewed in light of the secret later revealed about her role, the performance suddenly becomes not quite so seamless after all.

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