Posted in Fantasia 2014, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Han Gong-ju review Fantasia 2014

han-gong-juHan Gong-ju / 한공주 (2013)
Director: Lee Su-jin
Screenplay: Lee Su-jin
Cast: Chun Woo-hee, Jung In-sun, Kim So-young, Lee Young-lan

Note: The next screening of this film is July 25. EXTRA screening on August 7.

This is a powerful and damning independent film that will likely cause you to feel anger towards the selfish, unsympathetic characters except for a few. The film is named after the main character, Gong-ju, who gets transferred to another school in Incheon due to a traumatic past incident. Even though it’s not revealed what it is initially, hints appear early on which are later confirmed in flashbacks. Gong-ju just wants to start over and maintain a low profile but a girl at the new school who befriends her encourages Gong-ju break out of her self-imposed shell. Despite Gong-ju’s reluctance she actually begin to have a few fun moments with her new friend. Unfortunately, her new friend inadvertently causes Gong-ju’s past to find her in Incheon with serious consequences.

The acting is strong and the movie hinges very much on actress, Chun Woo-hee’s stellar performance as Gong-ju. She shows a range of emotions and deftly pulls off a character who’s often trying to keep a steady demeanor but is fighting inside to manage her feelings and pain. The story is an obvious criticism of the type of society that shames the victim and gives too much consideration to the perpetrators. In fact, it makes references to a real-life incident. At one point, Gong-ju asks why is it that when the perpetrators apologize, she has to run. Despite what is obviously very serious subject matter there are some lighter moments and the ending is more positive than negative.

One major criticism I have is that when flashbacks occur (and they frequently do) it is often not obvious that it is indeed a flashback scene. Considering how important these flashbacks are in revealing bits of the past, it makes it needlessly confusing in the early parts. It can be quite disorienting at first but it’s a testament to the film’s other strengths that I still feel this is a very compelling and worthwhile film to watch.



Longtime fan of East Asian films. Former "movie reporter" on the music radio show / podcast "Beats From The East" broadcasted on Concordia University's CJLO 1690AM radio station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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