Strong performances root this impassioned, if occasionally flawed, drama…
In A Girl at My Door Young-nam (Doona Bae) is transferred from the police academy in the city to a post in a small town after having committed some misconduct that hasn’t sat well with her colleagues and superiors. We don’t initially know what caused her to be relocated but she is now at something of a loss; drinking her way through every evening and not connecting well with the locals has assumed responsibility of. Soon she discovers a young girl (Sae-Ron Kim) who is suffering physical abuse from her influential father and Young-nam begins to find her focus as she becomes increasingly involved in ensuring the girl’s safety, even if it’s at risk of angering one of the town’s key figures.
This is a drama which very clearly lives or dies on the strength of its lead performances, the writing is often subtle and the direction deft, but with such a focus on intimate character details and relatioonships it would all crumble if the actors couldn’t rise to the script’s challenges. Thankfully then director July Jung has two very strong performers to work with in Doona Bae and Sae-Ron Kim. Bae brings a very intelligent performance to the screen here using stillness to communicate great swathes of emotion. Pay close attention to a scene in which she and another sit during an interrogation; the use of movement on her part is very economic and yet incredibly informative. She really holds the screen captive with her quiet and controlled work here. Still, she doesn’t outshine Sae-Ron Kim’s work though who is proving to be a real talent to watch. She displays a lot of raw talent in the role of the young girl; we are at once charmed by her and wary as she manages to subtly suggest troubling dark undercurrents to what initially appears to be a relatively simple character.
The film’s biggest flaws is a slight tendency to overstretch its scenes; to engage in one too many slow and ponderous moments which overtime begin to pull at the audience’s concentration.The slow nature of the film is essential to the overall tone of the piece but the film could have happily endured a hefty trim in the editing room without loosing either its pacing or its atmosphere.
It’s a slow burning, atmospheric drama which has plenty to say about a number of important issues, features a couple of excellent lead performances and which hits you with a somewhat keenly felt punch. It’s biggest problem is a lack of refinement but overall it’s still very much worth your time.
A Girl at My Door is now available on DVD (released 11th January) both online and in all good retailers. Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!