Ahn Ju-young (director)
London Korean Film Festival 2019 (studio)
10 November 2019 (released)
01 December 2019
Bo-hee (Ahn Ji-ho) is a nervous individual whose best friend Nok-yang (Kim Ju-ah) is an assertive teenager (and aspiring filmmaker) looking to cast him in her film, that he’s not too keen on. His nickname is also another problem as it’s a word for female genitals thus making him a target for bullies. In addition Bo is coping with his father’s death and is being brought up by his mother. Nok is also an orphan now with her grandmother and father, her mother having died in childbirth.
However, the pressure of Bo's mother’s nascent relationship with a new man leads him to run away to someone whom he sees as his half-sister Nam-hee (Kim So-ra). Here he finds out that his father’s death in a car accident may not be quite what he was led to believe so he and Nok set out to find him.
It’s a quest that Bo and Nok take on from a casual query leading them into the complexity of human emotions and relationships, and it is a steep learning curve. Sung-wook (Seo Hyun-woo) his half-sisters’ boyfriend at first comes over as a lost slob but later a more sympathetic and empathic side develops, as their characters do deftly building to the revelations at the end.
Ahn Ju-young’s writing and directing debut is a delightful film of layers with Nok and Bo as the fulcrum. Their teen angst and anxieties are put against some very adult situations that they have no control over.
The two young leads are remarkable with Ahn Ji-ho appearing deceptively gormless but with a strong will and good nature. While the far more assertive Kim Ju-ah at times appears to be running on a stream of consciousness. They are quite different people though with a love and understanding of each other that only very good friends can ever have.
The subject matter is overall fairly heavy but Ju-young injects some lighter moments with some very funny lines and gags, such as Bo’s mum flirting and Bo and Nok’s encounters with booze. There’s also an air of magic about it as memories are mined using some beautiful images. And I would suggest one of the reasons the film is so effective is the pin-point use of Juno-lee’s soundtrack as it’s perfectly synched with the action on the screen.