On the verge of coming of age. Aimie is perhaps 18, a Korean immigrant in Canada. It's winter, snow crunches beneath her feet. She lives with her mother. She studies English and doesn't seem to be a particularly good student. Tran is her best friend, and he wouldn't mind if their relationship becomes sexual. She declines, then worries that he might find a more willing girlfriend. Her mother broaches the subject of remarriage. Aimie misses her father, sending him messages to come and visit. What does she have she can count on? Written by
Quite astonishing and haunting - One of the best films I've seen this year.
This film is unfortunately destined to only be truly appreciated by a smaller audience, due to it's subject matter, which is a crying shame. I thought of the Italian neo-realists as I watched this film, and how this was a wonderful example of how film can illuminate the sometimes hidden sides of ordinary life. The acting was almost imperceptible, which I mean as a high compliment. The performances are so natural and relaxed in the sense that everything is allowed to be very low key and real, you never have a sense that you are watching actors. They seem to be real people whose lives you are gaining a temporary window in to, which combined with the lingering, atmospheric cinematography which often clings closely to the characters, creates a stunning (and very difficult to achieve) sense of reality. It's funny, and only partly relevant, but I have to give a personal example of how this film affected me. I have been the only non-Japanese member in 4 bands, and spent a few years surrounded by mostly Japanese people and culture. While Japanese culture was always a personal fascination for me, and it was an incredible experience to play with bands whose music I loved, to my dismay and discredit, I eventually found myself feeling alienated. Much of my joy seemed to, against my wishes, turn to a slight bitterness and a loneliness that to this day I find difficult to explain, and which I mostly kept inside and never shared with my Japanese friends. What was once a feeling of elation had somehow turned into a feeling that I was always going to be an outsider, and I'm not so sure that I have anyone to blame for this feeling except for myself. This film, while dealing entirely with a different culture, made me examine these feelings, and it gave me, I think, a better understanding of how many of my band mates (several of which I lived with for a few years) may have felt living here in NYC. Again, not that any of it specifically applied, but it is that rare kind of movie that causes you to examine your own life and think about other people, many of which you may only meet peripherally, and how they struggle with happiness in day to day life. On a unrelated note, here in Manhattan I have often seen Asian women who perhaps did not fit the mold of the cute, perky westernized or "Hello Kitty" anime gal that men seem to prefer, and noted in some an almost palpable unhappiness, a sense that this person is lonely and kind of lost in this busy city and culture. Certainly this can be applied to anyone we pass on the street and happen to notice wears some quality of sadness, but what was truly haunting about this film is I suddenly felt like I understood one of these small lost stories, so to speak. It made me examine my own feelings of alienation and how I arrived at them, and it made me think about how my Japanese friends felt, living in NYC and so far away from the country and culture of their birth, and also why, perhaps, they seemed to cling to their own cultures and remain with other Japanese, despite having chosen to move to NY. If all this seems rambling and unclear, it's my own fault for not being able to put how this film made me feel in to words. It's one of the rare films I have ever seen that made me think about the real people we know in our lives and pass on the street every day, and I cannot help but think if everyone were to have this experience cinematically, we might all begin to understand one another better, and also know how much we are all alike.
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