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 animationWritten by
Another achievement in recent adult animation ("A Scanner darkly", "Persepolis", "Waltz With Bashir", "Chico and Rita"), "Couleur de peau : miel" is a new illustration of how profound and innovative this film genre, once deemed reserved for children, can get.
Directed by Laurent Boileau and Jung, based on a graphic novel (or more accurately a graphic autobiography) by the latter, "Couleur de peau : miel" revisits the cartoonist's youth from age six to twenty. Catoonist Jun could have been content to align a series of colorful childhood memories, which would already have given rise to a pleasant show, but he has set the bar much higher. Refusing anecdote, his in-depth screenplay examines candidly the notions of adoption, of difference, of family relationships, of self-identity... As a matter of fact, "Couleur de peau : miel" is not only about what Jung DID as a child and as a teenager, but mostly about what he FELT, both consciously and subconsciously. Nor is it an ode to Jung as a martyr, since the author shows without any taboos what a difficult a child he was and does not leave untold all the silly things he did at this period of his life. The result of such an approach is impressive. Rarely indeed has a movie been more eloquent about what it is like to be an adopted child from a different civilization, but also about what it means to be the parents of such children. In turns amusing and poignant, this short film captivates you as of the first minutes of its running time but a high point is attained in the final scenes when the young man finally comes to terms with his parents (in particular with his adoptive mother, unable as she was to express her love for him), with his native country and with himself ; it really puts tears in your eyes.
Another quality to be mentioned is that 75 minutes are enough for Jung and his co-director, documentary-maker Laurent Boileau, to deal with such a complex issue fully. Such a feat is obtained - at least partly - in varying the angles of approach, which means resorting to various gauges (35mm and 8mm), sources (home movies, newsreels, real- life views of Jung back in Seoul for the first time at age 46) and techniques (2D and 3D animation). Such a combination, probably unseen before (I may be mistaken but no other example of such a mix comes to my mind), greatly enhances the effectiveness of the whole thing. In any case, this is another example that brevity is not alien to density. On the contrary.
If you are a fan of "Persepolis" or "Waltz With Bashir", it would be surprising if you disliked "Couleur de peau: miel". I would not recommend it to young children though but those over twelve may appreciate it and learn from this beautiful work of art.
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