Posted in Fantasia 2018, Fantasia International Film Festival, Film Festivals, Reviews, Trailers, Video

Microhabitat – film review – Fantasia 2018

Microhabitat / 소공녀 [So-gong-nyeo] Lit: A Little Princess (2017)

DIRECTOR / WRITER: Jeon Go-woon
CAST: Esom, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Duk-moon

Synopsis

This slice of life drama paints a portrait a woman who makes little money but manages to get by while enjoying her two favorite things: cigarettes and whiskey. But when the price of cigarettes and the monthly rent are increased, her budget cannot handle it and she decides to sacrifice rent and moves out. Now essentially homeless she stays over at the places of various past friends, who have their own hardships.

Review

The premise of this movie is certainly not exciting nor does it seem particularly interesting. In such cases the characters and plot have to be strong to make the movie engaging. Miso (Esom) is the main character, a woman who is poor but enjoys the simple things in life and has a stable relationship with her boyfriend. Esom from what I can tell seems to be playing against type here. She looks suitably downtrodden but with rather good skin. Her performance is convincing and her character empathizes easily with others.

The characters she interacts with get their brief moments and we hear enough from them to know about their mundane struggles. But does the audience care? Hard to say. It’s mainly Miso we get to know and her boyfriend to some degree. She managed to keep my attention at least as I tried to better understand her but eventually my interest began waning about 2/3 of the way. Should I be rooting for her or feel sorry for her? Perhaps the most intriguing question is whether her homelessness was really a choice she willingly makes or just an inevitable outcome based on rising costs that outpace her meager earnings. She doesn’t have any means to get better paying jobs. Is her homelessness her own personal failure or society’s failure?

This is a low key film that I don’t really think the average movie goer would care much for. There aren’t any grand insights or particularly stand-out performances. Maybe a film student or connoisseur would enjoy analyzing the subtleties and techniques in this film but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot here on the surface. There are a few humorous moments but the one where a bug scurries away quickly to hide from Miso does more to break realism and wasn’t funny at least to me. The best joke is spoiled in the trailer. This is mostly a dour film.

Seen in the theater at Fantasia International Film Festival.

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Author:

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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