Korean movie. Mi-sook and Do-il Kim are a married couple who have trouble conceiving a child. They adopt an artistic loner named Jin-sung. He adjusts fairly well, with the help of his loving adopted parents, Do-il’s father, and new friend Min-jee—though he seems to think the acacia tree in the backyard is his deceased mother.
Suddenly Mi-sook finds she is 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 Kim 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. “Excited!!!” reads my notes. On my first two viewings, I saw the Kims as a basically loving and kind family 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, who’s wise and kind.
There are also many creepy moments; the viewer is unsure of what horrible things await, but the tension builds from the beginning, when Jin-sung recreates Munch’s creepy painting The Scream. Jin-sung has a creepy 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 eeriest 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 is at the beginning, this Do-il is terrifying and unpredictable.
Overall, the film is thought-provoking and a bit depressing—check it out if you’re in a serious mood.