Friday, July 31, 2020

House of Humminbird Review: An Emotional Family Slice of Life

Release date: August 4, 2020
Running time: 138 minutes
Starring: Ji-hu Park, Sae-byeok Kim, Seung-Yun Lee 

Positioned against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Seoul in 1994, 14-year-old Eun-hee (Park) moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness wherever she may find it.  Ignored by her parents and abused by her brother, she finds her escape by roaming the neighborhood with her best friend, going on adventures, exploring young love, and experiencing everything that comes with growing up in a country on the brink of enormous change.

House of Hummingbird is a slow burning story, but in a good way.  As a slice of life drama, this movie spends a lot of time establishing the characters and their relationships.  You really get a sense of where everyone stands because so much time is spent on them.  And although the movie is focused on young Eun-hee, you really get a sense of the entire family and their passions, motivations, and fears.  And through this exploration of this one family, Director Bora Kim is able to convey so many issues.  The film touches on family expectations, on inter-family violence, and on expectations of women in a male dominated society.  There are some very raw scenes here that put this front and center, and Kim approaches it with a wonderful documentary eye.  Nothing is there to sway you, no unnecessary music, no cues to push the viewer one way or the other, but Kim naturally guides you to your conclusion with fantastic characters and wonderful shot choice.  

Speaking of the camera work, the camera work and cinematography in this film are simply phenomenal.  I adore directors that don't need to spell everything out for you and Kim has quickly risen on my list with her amazing cinematography.  She can tell you so much about what is going on in a scene and her characters from a simple shot.  She only needs to focus on a piece of the picture, but you can tell exactly what she is saying right then and there.  She trusts that the viewers will be able to see everything she is trying to tell without holding their hand.  And another thing about this film that is so powerful is just how good her characters are.  A good slice of life film will have characters who are more than one dimensional, and those in House of Hummingbird are layered and complex.  Some of the characters are brutal and demanding, but then when they need to be they are able to show their more vulnerable side.  You never quite know what you are going to get with these characters, but much like life, they are layered and nuanced.  Eun-hee herself is fairly emotionless for most of the film, but when Kim finally opens her up the film gets so much better.  

House of Hummingbird is like life.  It is a complicated, layered film but at the same time a simple exploration of a family in the midst of cultural change.  Like life, there is so much going on but Kim's amazing shot choice lets you just stop and appreciate what is happening in the now.  It is like family: messy, rough, emotional, but also beautiful. 

Watch it.
For additional information about the film and to rent / buy it, check it out at the links below.
This site contains affiliate links. //Commerce or this site may be compensated when you click through links on our site.

No comments:

Post a Comment