DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema

A Distant Place (Jeong-mal Meon Got)

Director - Park Kun-young - 2020

"Dirty gem"
Far away from bigotry: a gay couple seeks to build a peaceful family life in rural Korea, but their journey isn't as smooth as they anticipated - from the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

QUICK SNAP: LIVE FROM TALLINN

Jin Woo (Kang Gil Woo) and Hyun Min (Hong Kyung) are in a quiet relationship that does not dare speak its name. They both work in a family farm with the little Seol (Kim Si Ha, in a shining child performance). Hyun has an extra job as a poetry teacher in the local school for adults, and his students adore him. Their life is very tranquil, almost Utopian. They enjoy each other’s company, the little girl, their employers and the numerous sheep. It looks like they found the dream home away from the buzz of Seoul.

One day, Seol’s mother Eun Young (Lee Sang Hee) shows up without warning in order to visit her daughter. Jin Woo isn’t delighted to see the woman, promptly reminding her that she abandoned the child years earlier. They tell the young Seol that the woman is Jin Woo’s “twin sister” and they won’t disclose that she’s her mother. Seol is so used to the paternal figures that she calls Jin Woo’s “mother” and Hyun Min “father”. A very unusual family structure for a deeply conservative Korea. Eun Young’s presence will ruffle some feathers in the local community, raising awkward questions about the nature of the relationship between the two men.

Their employers consist of three generations: a very old and demanding grandmother, a doting father and a diligent daughter. The latter is infatuated with Jin Woo, yet accepting of his relationship with the charming Hyun Min. At first, its isn’t entirely clear whether the two men and Seol are connected to their employers, or even to their very own child. Blood relations and dirty secrets slowly surface. There is no rush in clarifying how the characters are associated with each other. And that’s fine. This is a quiet film that challenges orthodox patriarchal structures. Audiences understand the psychology of each individual character ahead of their social role.

The lush hills dotted with sheep and a sapphire blue lake provide the backdrop to this very slow story. The sounds of nature are captured in minute detail. They represent the divine and blissful state-of-mind for which the characters are striving. Despite being directly beneath their feet, this idyll still feels very distant from our troubled characters.

This is not the average LGBT film to which Western audiences are used nowadays. There is no steamy sex, not even a kiss. Yet there is no ambiguity about the nature of the male homosexual relation, a remarkable achievement per se for Korean film. Park Chan-wook’s 2017 mega hit The Handmaiden indeed features abundant Lesbian interaction, but that’s mostly a voyeuristic experience. A Distant Place feels palpable and real.

A Distant Place has just premiered at the 24th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. It is part of the event’s Official Competition. The director could not attend the screening due to the pandemic travel restrictions. He joined spoke to audience through video link from a very distant Korea, noting the irony of the film title.



"Dirty gem"

By Victor Fraga - 28-11-2020

By Victor Fraga - 28-11-2020

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more th...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Holidaying in Cambodia with Isaac (Ross McCall), Ben [Read More...]

Read More

Second Thoughts (Ich Ich Ich)

Zora Rux
2021

Justin Khoo - 16-10-2021

A failed marriage proposal stunt unleashes a number of unexpected events on a young German couple, in this exquisite debut feature - from the Raindance Film Festival [Read More...]

Benedetta

Paul Verhoeven
2021

Dan Meier - 15-10-2021

Talk about a dirty movie; sex and violence abound in Paul Verhoeven’s lesbian nun odyssey, loosely based on a real-life story - from the BFI London Film Festival [Read More...]

First-time directors: the nascent talent set to shine next month in Tallinn!

 

Redmond Bacon - 15-10-2021

Ahead of the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn between November 12th and 28th, we survey the return of the excellent first feature competition [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *