Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Obliquely Bleak

With a Girl of Black Soil (2007) - Jeon
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The film falls between Spirit of the Beehive and Morvern Callar. It takes place in a wintry small mining town in rural Korea. A miner finds out that he has a lung disease. He gets laid off. He has a retarded boy and a young girl to look after and the coal company is planning to demolish their shack. Talk about bleakness. The bright eyed girl is adorable. She tries to make the best out of the poverty stricken life. After all, she's still a child and doesn't really know anything other than her surroundings. Or does she?

Things get progressively worse. Her brother does stupid things to make life more difficult and papa drinks to forget his troubles. The girl has to resort to stealing ramen and soju from a local convenient store. Even with little hints here and there, I was still surprised by the powerful ending. There are many amazing scenes of tenderness with beautiful, natural photography in this independent feature by Jeon Soo-il. However objectionable her actions may seem, as the title suggests, we go through the experience with her without judgment.