Ji-Min Park is broken in her Return to Seoul (2022)

Plot

An adopted French woman, Freddie, takes an impromptu trip to South Korea. She returns to the land of her birth for the first time and is persuaded to seek out her real parents. Once finding them, she struggles to cope with the newfound feelings of loss

Capsule

Quietly discomforting. Jin-Mi Park wears a mask and hides her pain with it. There are two distinct sides to her character, and her conscious and subconscious brains make up the central conflict of her emptiness. The emptiness of being in a country she recognizes as home, but as an adopted French Immigrant that feels innately distant. The conflict plays out on her face as her actions and decisions. She’s reserved and emotionally stunted but overcompensates with outbursts of extremes. In simultaneous scenes, she can go from soft-spoken and shy to dancing alone on a dance floor and taking command of situations – we see this in her introduction as her choices can be perceived as erratic, but speak so purely to her desire to belong. She’s a Paradox of a character, layered in the writing and delivered masterfully through Park’s performance. For her, she wants to present a rather heartless disposition towards Korea, but all her actions speak to someone obsessively attempting to be accepted into society. The line that hits the hardest is Tena (Guka Han) looking into her eyes and calling her “a very sad person,” and Freddie can’t help but face her emotions. Raw, truth that goes against Freddie’s image of herself. It’s a painful film grappling with these feelings rather than explaining and while the story isn’t always engaging, the driving force of the film is a fascinating character study.

– The elliptical Editing styling and jumping plot structure allows the audience to get to the brink of an emotional breakthrough but show Freddie’s willingness to break from reality and explore her eccentric side. This hides away her desire to belong. The editing beautifully puts us even deeper into Freddie’s subconscious.

– Jin-Mi Park is utterly sensational. It’s a subtle performance, but brimming with a wanting desire. The way she processes damaging information fools the audience into apathy, but is damaging. It’s layered with emotions but not so easily decipherable.

Review: ★★★★

Verdict: not weird

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