Park Ky-hyeong’s ‘Acacia’ is Gorgeous and Melancholy (review)

Korean movie. Mi-sook (Shim Hye-jin) and Do-il (Jin-geun Kim) are a married couple who are having trouble conceiving a child. They adopt an artistic loner named Jin-sung (Oh-bin Mun). He adjusts fairly well, with the help of his adopted parents, Do-il’s father, and new friend Min-jee (Na-yoon Jeong)—though he seems to think the acacia tree in the backyard is his deceased mother.

acacia4
                                                               Don’t cry, don’t cry, it’s only a movie…

Suddenly Mi-sook finds she’s pregnant, and though everyone still tries to pay attention to Jin-sung, things aren’t the same. Jin-sung is mean to baby Hae-sung, which exacerbates the situation. Mi-sook plans to send Jin-sung back, and he runs away. The family begins violently falling apart.

I hadn’t seen this film in six years or so, and was happy to finally get to review it. I still loved it, but my perception of the characters has definitely changed. On my first two viewings, I saw the family as basically loving, good people who had tragedy destined for them. On my most recent viewing (after becoming a parent), I feel a lot less sorry for them. Mi-sook flips out when Do-il even brings up the possibility of adopting a child. After she calms down and accepts the possibility, she picks a kid after a cursory introduction because he paints well. While they both make a valiant effort to welcome Jin-sung, they’re not the best parents. For example, Mi-sook has a hissy fit when Jin-sung has trouble adjusting to his new family name. Mi-sook and Do-il want to be parents mostly because they feel cultural pressure to do so, not because of any readiness or skill. They’re a bit cold and distant—the most endearing character is Do-il’s father, the kindly voice of reason.

acacia3

In addition to all the sad-making, there are lots of creepy moments, too. The viewer is unsure of what horrible things await, but the tension builds from the beginning, when Jin-sung recreates Munch’s eerie painting The Scream. Jin-sung has an unnerving blank-eyed stare much of the time, and Mi-sook is a ticking time bomb, so even the happy moments feel uneasy. One of the most brutal scenes is when Do-il finds a needle in his bowl of rice, cutting his mouth. He blames Mi-sook, and turns on her. Compared to the previously stable man he was at the beginning, this Do-il is terrifying and unpredictable.

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                                              “Clean that up before I kill you.” –actual quote

Overall, the film is thought-provoking and a bit depressing—check it out if you’re in a serious mood.

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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