Mira is a shy, single woman who runs a small restaurant and tends her plants with love and care. Her life is thrown into mayhem when her brother Hyung Chul, shows up out of the blue after ...
See full summary »
Mira is a shy, single woman who runs a small restaurant and tends her plants with love and care. Her life is thrown into mayhem when her brother Hyung Chul, shows up out of the blue after five years' absence, some of them spent in jail. Hyung-chul not only settles down at Mira's place but is soon joined by his new wife, Mu-Shin, a much older woman who smokes like a chimney - and Mira's a non-smoker. As if the house wasn't crowded enough, Mu-shin's young stepdaughter knocks at Mira's door one fine day, and moves in. The film's second part centers on Sun Kyung, who discovers that her mother - with whom she has a terribly difficult relationship - is seriously ill. Unhappy about her life, Sun Kyung decides to leave the country, but her plan is disrupted by her mother's death and by the presence of Kyung-Suk, her half-brother. Like threads neatly woven into the fine tapestry of a vivid family portrait, the intertwined lives of these characters come together years later in the third section...
Acting, photography, art design, story come together well in this near omnibus
Family Ties, whose Corean title is literally translated "Birth of a Family", is a rather curious film. It gives the appearance of being a three part omnibus film, but includes more than a few elements that bring it close to the edge of mainstream cinema and into another world entirely. I had my doubts going in but ended up being quite impressed by this seemingly "small" film about nothing more than family and relationships.
Right from the early part of the first segment, dealing with a woman whose deadbeat brother barges back into her life, bringing along a surprise or two in tow, you can tell that a lot of this film is carried by the actors. And the principal actors carry their parts spectacularly and the supporting cast doesn't slouch either. Even if this film were merely an acting showcase, it would have succeeded, but it brings more to the table with a few limited moments of artistic fancy, absolutely gorgeous photography (some of which I just want to frame) and some surprises along the way.
The second tale deals with the strained relationships around an quick-tempered young woman and the final deals with a young couple's problems. One thing I love about these stories is how each story helps you read the other stories and how the film just goes straight for an exploration of the theme of family, even in the final segment, which you don't immediately see the connection to the theme. And this subtlety that the film engages in, while it might seem clever to the particularly cinematically jaded, sponsors a surprising engagement with the film--it's not so much that there's a surprise twist, but the way that the film connects the dots between its stories is rather heartwarming and rewarding to those who engage with the separate story lines.
Honestly, I have to recommend this film. It won me over, from its sparkling production values (it definitely doesn't scream indie), to its gorgeous photography, powerful acting, subtle-yet-intelligent storytelling and willingness to play at the edges of what you'd expect. You do need to give it a chance, because the nature of the separate segments require them to be paced and while the film does work sometimes in the framework of Corean melodramas, it pulls back enough to keep it from sinking and flailing in the tradition. A solid and even wonderful film. 9/10.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this