Review of "A Girl At My Door (DVD)"

published 31/07/2017 | thedevilinme
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"Sexual, not military tension, from South Korea..."

A Girl At My Door (DVD)

A Girl At My Door (DVD)

Genre – World Cinema > Drama
Run Time – 119 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – Korea
Awards – 8 Wins & 14 Nominations
Amazon – £ DVD £ Blue Ray
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Korea is on country knocking out some decent films these days. In the South East region the massive metropolis of India doesn’t seem to able to do it and nothing much from Singapore and Bangkok yet South Korea bats way above their average. I have seen some crackers from here, through Science-Fiction to Romance, Drama to Horror. This is another one well worth look, in a genre of its own this time, about relationship between a female police officer and a young troubled schoolgirl.


Cast

• Bae Doona as Inspector Lee Young-nam
• Kim Sae-ron as Sun Do-hee
• Song Sae-byeok as Park Yong-ha
• Kim Jin-gu as Park Jum-soon, Yong-ha's mother
• Son Jong-hak as Captain Eom
• Na Jong-min as Officer Kim
• Gong Myung as Police Officer Kwon Son-oh
• Jang Hee-jin as Eun-jung, Young-nam's ex-lover
• Kim Min-jae as Jun-ho, Young-nam's senior colleague
• Park Jin-woo as Chief detective
• Moon Sung-keun as Nam Gyeong-dae, police superintendent in Seoul
• Kim Jong-gu as Boss Choi
• Arvind Alok as Bakeem, foreign worker
• Robin Shiek as Salam, foreign worker
• Pokhrel Barun as Hoang, foreign worker
• Lee Hyeon-jeong as Young-nam's landlady

Following some sort of incident in Soul, pretty police academy instructor Lee Young-nam (Bae Doona) is quickly transferred out of the capital to a backwater chief of Police role in a quiet seaside town in Yeosu. She keeps a low profile and has to tolerate the drunken locals and domestic abuse, mainly because she drinks heavily at home, pouring booze into water bottles to disguise that fact.

One of those abused is 14-year-old Sun Do-hee (Kim Sae-ron), a shy and withdrawn school girl covered with cuts and bruises. Do-hee is picked on by classmates and beaten by both her drunken stepfather Yong-ha (Song Sae-byeok) and grandmother (Kim Jin-gu as Park Jum-soon), who is violent because of her dementia symptoms. Sun’s biological mother abandoned them. The locals keep quiet about Yong-ha's injustices as he is the town's main employer, an oyster farmer employing illegal immigrants.

When the body of Yong-ha's mother is found floating in the water, ruled accidental death caused by drunk driving on her quad bike trailer, Yong-ha loses it and attacks Do-hee again. The police chief has followed them home and catches him drunk and beating her in the courtyard and has to act. Yong-ha says he is done with the girl anyway and she is crazy and twisted and implores the beatings and the police chief will find out just how unhinged she is if she takes her away.

Concerned for Do-hee's safety, Young-nam offers to let her stay with her during the summer vacation, despite whisperings from the villagers and without advice from child protection. It’s very unconventional. But for the first time Do-hee has someone in her life who does not hit her and who calls her by her first name instead of swearing at her and the two click as Young - nam’s maternal instinct kicks in. Do-hee is very comfortably with her new surrogate mom and even slips into the bath with her, intimacy not a problem, at other times wearing her police uniform and cutting her hair in the same style as Young-nam.

Young-nam steps up her investigation of Yong-ha when she discovers those illegals in his employ, especially as they exploited and underpaid. But when little Do-hee gets jealous when Young –nam’s ex lover shows up and she sees them kissing, Do-Hees troubled side kicks in and Young –nam facing another transfer, or worse…
Results

I really got involved in this and an interesting and quietly intense film to enjoy. The sexual tension
is cranked up a few notches at unexpected times as we are told why the police chief left Soul and who her ex partner is, and how platonic are the young girls feelings towards the police chief? It goes into areas we would not over here but all the better for it. That stuff exists and should be explored on film.

The acting is really good by the two female leads and convinces throughout, played with real ambiguity and stillness in the way they can act over there in the Far East. It’s amazing just how good child actors can be and holding on to their real innocence seems to be the key to performance.

The film is not really about being a cop in Korea but about the bullied, dispossessed and the attention seeking that needy emotion often generates. Director July Jung has really captured that adolescent stage of confusion and wanton need for intimacy and acceptance as a girl approaches womanhood.

It runs smoothly through its appropriate two hour run time as the mystery gently, yet potently, unfolds in a film that subtly wants to push its feminist credentials, all the men two dimensional and angry, all the women calm, flawed and victims. But it seems to work in context and makes this an intriguing and involving film. It was listed in the top films from Korea in 2014. Its well worth a look guys if you can past the subtitles (which there are not many) and a film that will quickly involve you with its stillness, atmosphere and that unspoken sexual tension.

RATINGS


Imdb.com – 7.0/10.0 (1,508votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 91% critic’s approval

Special Features

-Behind the scenes-

Quite a lot of subtitled talk with the director and cast.


-Deleted Scenes-

Not many.

Critics

Irish Independent –‘July Jung skilfully keeps you guessing in a film that might move slowly but is rich in sexual and psychological tension’.

Irish Times –‘Happily, The Girl at My Door gives the divine Ms Bae an opportunity to flex all of her acting muscles, albeit with small, delicate motions’

The Times –‘[Here,] the city slicker with a scandalous past, a passionate dislike of bullies and a penchant for lonely late-night drinking sessions. She's played, with mesmeric stillness, by rising star Doona Bae’.

Empire Magazine –‘It's an atmospheric, thought-provoking, melodramatic debut from July Jung’.

The Mail –‘This thought-provoking film grips. With its two outstanding leads, it couldn't fail to’.

The Scotsman –‘Though the plotting is by turns too opaque and then ultimately too convoluted to be entirely satisfying as a drama, Bae and Kim are consistently compelling as oppressed characters who find a strange kinship in an intolerant society’.

Variety –‘The pic is ultimately held together by the mesmerizing presence of Bae Doo-na in the title role and an equally bracing performance by teen thesp Kim Sae-ron’.

Total Film –‘A soulful, shattering drama that highlights the lengths desperate people will go to survive’.


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Comments on this review

  • euphie published 06/08/2017
    vh :o)
  • Nymphypig published 03/08/2017
    I think I'd enjoy this one :)
  • 2mennycds published 03/08/2017
    great review
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Product Information : A Girl At My Door (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Country Of Origin: Korea

Genre: Drama

Video Category: World Cinema Feature Film

Classification: 15 years and over

Sub Genre: General

DVD Region: DVD

Actor(s): Doona Bae, Sae-ron Kim, Sae-byeok Song, Hie-jin Jang

Director(s): July Jung

EAN: 5060265150327

Production Year: 2014

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Listed on Ciao since: 27/07/2017