Nestled in with the New Flesh programme (a showcase of first-time filmmakers) at Fantasia Fest is the beautiful Korean drama, ANOTHER CHILD. The directorial debut for actor Yoon-seok Kim, this drama feels like the work of a seasoned master.
After discovering their parents’ affair, two teen girls are forever linked by the product of their parents’ indiscretions, a new half brother. Blaming each other and their parents, the two resist and hate each other until finally finding their lives too intertwined to resist mutual respect.
This story, which was also co-written by Yoon-seok Kim, is a beautiful telling of the collateral damage in an unhappy marriage. It tells the stories of the ripple effect of a person’s indiscretions, tearing apart 4 unique characters in its own specific ways. Each character, specifically the father, his wife, his daughter, his mistress and her daughter, are all reeling from the outcome and grieving in their own unique ways. It is incredible how each member of this jumbled family has a specific set of core values which affects the lens through which they view the situation and how they react and cope. Each relationship is completely unique and paints the interactions of each character. That’s really what this movie gets so right. Character. Yoon-seok Kim understands character, perhaps from years as an actor. The simple story of a love child is given life by the fleshed-out people who are affected by it.
The film never lets go of Korean sensibilities. Those familiar with Korean cinema will recognize the signature style of humour, done so well here, and how it raises the emotional stakes while drawing a laugh. The Korean way of expressing love through food, and also the sensibility of feeding as an obligation of one who cares. The Korean sensibilities are also on display in the characters, colouring their traditions and values in experiencing such as “hiccup.”
There are almost not enough words to describe what a successful drama ANOTHER CHILD is, and yet there are only so few ways to praise this simple story that’s anything but a simple film. A glance around a filled theater and the sound of sniffles and glisten of tears throughout, with not a hint of “cry bait,” is enough to show how hard this movie hits. Though the film explores sadness and anger, it is truly about love and creates a sense of warmth.
This film is an incredible feat for any filmmaker, let alone one of new flesh. Yoon-seok Kim created something absolutely beautiful here, showing the complexities of a tired situation, and power of love in the aftermath of tragedy.