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Young Jinhee is taken by her father to an orphanage near Seoul. He leaves her there never to return, and she struggles to come to grips with her fate. Jinhee desperately believes her father will come back for her and take her on a trip. The film is based on the experiences of the director, an ethnic Korean who was adopted by a French couple in the 1970s. Written by
What kind of story would attract the acclaimed South Korean director Lee Chang-Dong's support and serving as a producer? (So far he has only served as a producer of two films. He was even only an executive producer of his own work "Secret Sunshine." I have to also mention that the film's French producer Laurent Lavolé was the guest who I honorably hosted in the Taipei Film Festival in 2008.) "A Brand New Life" is such a simple but moving film from the new French Korean filmmaker Ounie Lecomte. Based on her personal experience as a child, she sincerely shares this poignant but very inspiring childhood memories to the audience around the world.
Jinhee was taken out on a trip by her father. Her father bought a wide range of gifts, they ate lots of delicious food, and he even gave her a big cake, but it all turned to a different direction once they set their feet into a children's monastery shelter. It turned out that Jinhee's life will never be the same ever since. This has a similar premise as the famous fairy tale "The Little Princess" by the British writer Frances Hodgson Burnett. Though we think that there would be another harsh supervisor and several kids who try to bully her here through Jinhee's eyes, fortunately, the reality is not entirely so tragic.
The supervisor seems harsh, but in fact, she has a loving heart under her icy face; the crippled sister, who's the oldest among the children, sadly took her fate after the unsuccessful struggle; Sookhee is already an older child than most, she seems capricious at first, but she's very sympathetic underneath. She and Jinhee soon to become inseparable friends. But they still have total different perspectives toward the future. Sookhee, who has watched many of the adopted children left, wish that she would find a good home before she becomes too old, so she tried her best to promote herself once she gets the chance. But Jinhee, who's still waiting for her father to fulfill his promise and come back to pick her up, but the wait seems to be increasingly long and increasingly remote.
Lecomte showed her great talent in this film she wrote and directed for the first time. She presented the very personal story in a very modest and earthy way, but it's even more effective and moving than letting the sentiments taking over. Take the part where Jinhee and Sookhee secretly took care of a dying bird after they found it as an example, it simply conveys the profound meaning of the fine line between life and death. Kin Sae Ron, who was casted as Jinhee, successfully performed as the crucial key to make the film work, whether it's the look when being helpless, or the fake smile when she has learned to be sophisticated, they are all hard to make the audience not be moved.
After Sookhee was gone, Jinhee, who had hope once again in her heart, had lost someone she could rely on. In the meantime, she learned that her father and the family had moved to somewhere no one knows from the headmaster of the monastery. It was the first time in her life that she felt all alone and was left in helplessness and despair. but she eventually learned to face the difficulties of life with strengths. She quickly got a new hope that might become a turning point in her life with her adorable looks. When on her way towards the unknown destination, the warmth when leaning on her father's back on the back seat of the bike suddenly appeared in her heart, but it may only be deeply buried in the memory as the song she sang from her heart.
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