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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
"In Between Days" is an understated, deceptively simple account of a young girl's first encounter with love.
A recent immigrant from Korea, Aimie is a taciturn, moody teen who lives with her mother in a working-class section of Ontario, Canada. When she isn't sitting off in a corner by herself, Aimie is hanging out with Tran, a boy from school who, from the looks of things, is her only real friend. Almost inevitably, perhaps, the relationship begins to take a decidedly romantic turn, as together, these two inexperienced youngsters venture into that dangerous emotional minefield known as adolescence. However, thanks to her status as an immigrant, Aimie has the added burden of being essentially a stranger in a strange land, less familiar than most of the other kids with the language and culture of the world around her.
Rather than rely on a heavily-plotted narrative to tell his story, first-time director So Yon Kim creates drama through observation, training his camera on the two main characters as they sit in their rooms or wander the streets and neighborhoods, eating at fast-food joints, engaging in monosyllabic conversations, groping through bouts of clumsy lovemaking, and even lifting a car radio or two when the opportunity presents itself. There's a definite air of improvisation to the work, thanks to the unforced nature of the writing and the extraordinarily naturalistic performances by Jiseon Kim and Taegu Andy Kang in the lead roles. Without the slightest hint of melodrama, the movie deftly captures all the awkwardness and heartbreak, all the self-generated "drama" and endless game-playing that are an essential part of any first love.
Kim's spare film-making style - featuring an abundance of tightly-framed close shots, no background music and stark wintry locales - perfectly complements the melancholic tone of the story. Particularly poignant are the voice-over recitations of Aimie's diary entries addressed to her father, as she pours her heart out to a man who, for all intents and purposes, has no real interest in the daughter he long ago abandoned.
Even though Aimie may appear at times to be just a few oxycontin pills shy of a full-blown depression, she is pretty much just your typical average teen, being forced to confront feelings and emotions that are entirely new and unfamiliar to her. After all, it isn't like adolescence comes with a road map for any of us, and Aimie and Tran soon learn that they must forge their own path through this alien territory without a great deal of support from the outside world. (Aimie's mother is too hardworking, self-absorbed and clueless to be of much help in the guidance department). That the couple's efforts in that direction are faltering and stumbling, to say the least, is what makes "In Between Days" a universal experience we can all relate to.
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