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Ko - production in Busan
  • In Focus: Nobody's Daughter Haewon
  • by Darcy Paquet /  Feb 21, 2013

  • Directed by
    HONG Sangsoo
    Starring JUNG Eun-chae, LEE Sun-kyun, KIM Ja-ok, KIM Ui-seong, YU Jun-sang, YEA Ji-won, KEY Joo-bong, RYU Deok-hwan
    Release Date February 28, 2013
    Director HONG Sangsoo’s 14th feature film Nobody’s Daughter Haewon premiered in competition at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, and it opens in Korea at the end of February. HONG is in the midst of the most prolific period of his career, having released six feature films in a four-year time span. He is also in post-production on yet another feature film, to be released later this year.
    Nobody’s Daughter Haewon
    centers on an acting student named Haewon who, after her mother emigrates to Canada, re-starts an emotionally turbulent relationship with her film professor. It’s a synopsis that recalls much of HONG’s previous work, and indeed this director is well-known for tackling similar subject matter in all of his films. This “variations on a theme” approach naturally encourages viewers to see the work as part of a series, and to compare elements of this film to HONG’s other recent films. Sure enough, there are numerous echoes: a couple in Nobody’s Daughter Haewon played by YU Jun-sang and YEA Ji-won appear to be the same couple from Hahaha (2010). A line of dialogue by KIM Ui-seong recalls a comment given by the same actor in The Day He Arrives (2011). A movement from Beethoven’s 7th Symphony that the film professor listens to for emotional support was a key part of the soundtrack to Night and Day (2008).
    Many of the actors in this film have also appeared in other corners of the director’s filmography. However model-turned-actress JUNG Eun-chae makes a highly memorable impression in her first HONG film. Her portrayal of a young woman struggling to find direction at the start of her adult life received widespread praise from critics in Berlin, and it is her character that gives this somewhat melancholy work its deepest emotional resonance.
    Meanwhile, HONG also plays with perspective and narrative structure by implying that much of what takes place in the film is actually Haewon’s dreaming. This includes an early scene in which Haewon runs into Jane BIRKIN (playing herself) on the street, as well as major sections of the plot. The final image of the film, of Haewon lying asleep next to the book she has been reading, is both tantalizing and affecting at the same time. Somehow HONG is able to take ordinary moments like this and make them unforgettable.
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