With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, September 24, 2012

ACF 1637: HOME SWEET HOME reviewed; free screening Tuesday

Korean Cultural Service
Korean Movie Night 
Series Six: Gems of Korean Cinema
OH Tae-su, left, and Se-ra's father on the roof of the Prestige Lodging House
 Home Sweet Home
Written and directed by MUN Si-hyeon
South Korea, 2011, 95 minutes
When: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 7:00 PM
Doors open: 6:30 PM
Where: Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, NYC
Near the A, C, E @ #1 Canal Street subway stops
Admission: FREE!!!
All seating is first-come, first served
North American Premiere

Home Sweet Home, like Helpless, is a Korean film that focuses on the effect of extreme financial hardship on the individual and the family. Here, a young couple who have been living well are faced with the prospect of giving up the lovely apartment they own and having to take their daughter out of the school she's attending outside of Korea.

LEE Yeon-joo, the wife, refuses to allow this. As an alternative, OH Tae-su, the husband, is to move out, and the couple will pretend to get divorced. It wasn't clear to me exactly what's brought about their financial difficulties, but the specifics really don't matter. My sense is that with them ostensibly being divorced, she will not be responsible for any debt he owes, and thus be entitled to keep their apartment.

Tae-Su inadvertently interrupts Se-Ra as she's dressing in the communal bathroom

Tae-su moves into the Prestige Lodging House in Busan, one of many such dwellings for those down on their luck. The walls are thin and the place is smelly. There he barely manages to cope with the situation in which he finds himself. Making it somewhat bearable is the friendship that develops between him and Se-ra, a high school aged girl who lives there with her father.

But things are not quite what they seem to be on several scores, leading to developments and revelations that further threaten Tae-su's physical and financial well-being.

As best I could discover, Home Sweet Home is MUN's first film. (He subsequently served as Assistant Director on Kim Ki-duk's Pieta, which was recently named best picture at the Venice film Festival and which also deals with the subject of debt.) The film is somewhat slow-paced initially, but not glacially so, and it picks up rather briskly in the last 20-30 minutes. Overall it's quite a solid freshman outing for MUN.

ACF Rating: 3 out of 4 stars, a good film that I have no hesitancy about recommending.

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