Natanaël, seven, still doesn't know how to read. His eccentric old aunt bequeaths her house to his parents and her book collection to the young boy. Nat discovers that the books serve as a ... See full summary »
The plot of the film has a grandfather telling his grand kids the story of Maki, a young boy who escapes from slave traders, befriends a giraffe (the title character), cross the desert, ... See full summary »
Max Renaudin Pratt,
European on the heads side, Asian on the tails side. Cartoonist. 42 years old according to his civil status, Jung prefers to place his birth at the age of 5, when a policeman found him wandering alone on the streets of Seoul. He is one of those 200 000 adopted Koreans spread around the world. Jung decided to return, for the first time, in South Korea, in order to breath the air of his home country, tread the land of his ancestors, and maybe find traces of his biological mother. This trip of reconciliation with his roots and with himself, shot as a documentary, leads our character to recall in animation Written by
Special and unique, but somehow not as powerful for me as I wished
A heartfelt, unique, mostly animated film, this off-beat documentary is the autobiographic tale of co-director Jung's adoption in Korea by a Belgian family when he was a young orphan. It gives a good sense of the strangeness of leaving your homeland and culture at age 5, and the difficulties of growing up in with a family where you don't look like everyone else.
It's particularly effective at capturing the lingering paranoia that you're not always loved as deeply as the 'real' kids, and suggests there may even be some hints of truth in that fear re Jung's adoptive parents, at least from a child's perception. And yet the film is ultimately embracing of his adoption, without denying its challenges.
Jung himself has grown-up to be a successful illustrator, and his drawings form the basis of the animation that make up about 80% of the film (the rest are old home movies and stills, along with shots of the adult Jung pondering, and visiting Korea).
So why don't I love the film more? It's brave, honest, and different. But it sometimes feels both emotionally muted and repetitive. As personal as the story is, the stylistic choices, while interesting, make it feel like a fable more than a person's real experience. This is fed by the adult Jung's narration being read by an actor, not the man himself. And there is something artificial in the performance.
I watched the film twice, and appreciated it both times, but was never quite as swept up in it as I longed to be. That may be my loss, my limitation. I can imagine someone else being deeply moved. One to see for yourself.
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