HKIFF Review: Nobody’s Daughter Haewon 누구의 딸도 아닌 해원 白日夢女兒 (2013) – South Korea

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA FIPRESCI
Review Date: 5th April 2013

Directed by: Hong Sang-soo
Starring: Jung Eun-chae, Lee Sun-gyun

Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013

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This is how you make a good romantic drama that matters. “NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON” is consistently involving, relevant and at times feels as though the director is taking the audience on a personal journey. Director Hong Sang-soo has the unique ability to show the interactions between the characters so vividly and convincing that allows the audience to live and breathe the drama and slip within the spectrum seamlessly.

Jung Eun-chae (정은채) looks insanely similar to Jeon Ji-hyun (“THE BERLIN FILE”) as both have that inner toughness about them, where they can play strong characters while holding their own at the same time. Jung’s on screen chemistry with “Director Lee” played by Lee Sun-gyun is utterly convincing as there is a degree of need of each other that the audience can clearly feel on a deeper level. The long walks along the border walls, the awkward moments at a student gathering are all naturally played out as the two interacts with passion, normality and silence. It is a truly compelling couple.

All in all, “NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON” is a thoroughly engaging affair that is likely to glue the audience to the screen for the entire duration. In many ways, director Hong Sang-soo is alluding to the technique often used in “BEFORE SUNRISE” and “BEFORE SUNSET” to maximum effect. It is an admirable technique used as the focus is essentially on the actors and characters. The filmmakers also touch upon some deeper issues and provide a rather matured look at love and romance. Perhaps the better title would be capturing a few days in the life of Haewon. After all, “NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON” is probably as real as it gets and after years of romantic comedy and melodrama, Korean cinema may well have come of age. This is a real step up from the other Hoo Sang-soo’s film (“IN ANOTHER COUNTRY), also showing at this year’s film festival. (Neo 2013, Reviewed as part of 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival 2013)

I rated it 9/10

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