Directed by MIN Yongkoun
South Korea, 2009, 107 minutes
Re-encounter was shown on Tuesday, May 10th as the first film in Korean Movie Night Series 3: The Hidden Gems of Korean Cinema. The series focuses on independent movies. This one features two fantastic lead performances.
Hyehwa (YOO Da-In) is an assistant to a veterinarian who is a single parent with a young son. In addition to her work in the vet's office, Hyehwa picks up abandoned or stray dogs, several of whom wind up living with her in her small apartment. There she also has a black plastic 35mm film canister in which she saves her fingernail trimmings (?!). In her mid-twenties, she lives a life that, all-in-all, is relatively quiet and uneventful.
Quite unexpectedly, her high school sweetheart, Kim Hanso (YOO Yun-Suk), suddenly reappears. About six years earlier, he had left for Canada when she was pregnant with their child, who died shortly after being born. Now back in Korea, where he injured one of his legs while performing his military service, he tells Hyehwa that their child did not actually die but was secretly adopted. Believing that he has found their daughter, he urges Hyehwa to join him so the three of them can have a "last chance to be together."
This psychological drama is infused with mystery and conflict, as Hyehwa first resists, then gradually succumbs to Hanso's entreaties. Most wonderfully, things she says and does earlier in the film acquire deeper additional meaning as the story progresses.
Re-encounter easily holds its own in any comparison with the best independent films made in the U.S. It's intriguing and, as I said at the start of this review, it has two stellar performances from its leads.
ACF rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars; highly recommended.
The next film in Korean Movie Night Series 3: The Hidden Gems of Korean Cinema will be Missing Person, which will be shown next Tuesday. Info about it in tomorrow's post.