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University student Hae-Won (Jung Eun-Chae) wants to break up with Teacher Sung-Joon (Lee Sun-Kyun). They have had a secret relationship. Hae-Won meets her mother (Kim Ja-Ok), who is going to emigrate to Canada tomorrow. After meeting her mother, Hae-Won feels depressed and she decides to meet Sung-Joon for the first time in a long while. On that day, Hae-Won and Sung-Joon happen to meet students at a restaurant who study the same major and their relationship becomes known to others. Hae-Won becomes more depressed. Sung-Joon then suggests they runaway to somewhere else.Written by
Poignant and sophisticated film about a young woman and her thoughts.
From the opening titles of Nobody's Daughter Haewon, it's very clear that this is a Hong Sang-soo film and you know you're in for plenty of drinking, awkward social interactions and whimsical humor.
It's very hard to put into words the experience of watching this film because it is unlike anything I've ever seen. It is very much a dialogue-driven film, there are only a few settings, scenes are quite long, the camera is often still and there are zero close-ups. All of these elements made it one of the most engrossing and emotionally involving films I've seen.
The performances in this film are brilliant. Jung Eun-chae plays Haewon, a young woman whose mother recently left for Canada and is coping with being alone and becoming an adult. She's a character you may think you have all figured out at first but ends up being mysterious and fascinating. There are many layers to her and this film very much feels like a peep inside her complicated mind. Professor Lee (played by the charming Lee Sun-kyun) is an unhappily married man who falls in love with Haewon. Jung & Lee have fantastic chemistry, their scenes together are easily the highlights of the film. These scenes not only make you care deeply about the duo, but are also rich in subtext. Are they truly in love? Do they know what they're looking for?
The dialogue comes off as improvised because of how natural the interactions are but is actually very intricate. The film is not only about Haewon's relationship with Professor Lee, it is about Haewon figuring out who she is as an individual and what she wants in life. Her interactions with various characters may seem insignificant but adds a lot to the film and her character.
The film has a dream vs reality aspect. It blurs the lines between the two. Bizarre events that happen are hinted at as being Haewon's dreams, while others could be interpreted as memories or actual events that are happening. But in the end, does it matter?
I honestly did not expect the film to be so emotionally affecting and genuinely heartwarming. The film takes viewers through a range of emotions and the incredible ending is deeply moving and bittersweet. It is without a doubt one of the best South Korean films I have seen and will continue to stay with me.
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