In Between Days (2006)

16 01 2008

The whole concept of a “coming-of-age” story has been trivialized in the past couple years by the countless Rushmore rip-offs. I won’t get into what’s wrong with these films or if there is something wrong with them. I am more concerned (or upset) about the lack of creativity in teenage angst films. The countless indie teenage flicks make angst seem more sillier than it really is. In Between Days is not one of those films and since it doesn’t view its characters condescendingly, many may accuse it of being too whiny. I’d say, if anything, it’s too truthful.

Aimie is an exchange student, whose best and only friend is Tran. Over time she begins to develop a crush on him. The big problem with Tran is that he’s more socially adaptable than Aimie. He can chat up women far more easily than Aimie can chat up men. Her attempts at making him jealous are unsuccessful and only create unnecessary friction in their already complicated relationship.

This is So Yong Kim’s first film and it doesn’t really standout in terms of narrative. Again, it’s easy to group it under the very common “troubled youth” category. Not only that but this is another case of a film overusing that “handheld, shaky cam” look. There is some nice cinematography, though, and none of those problems really affect the film. The “plot” is really just a setup to watch Aimie’s life unfold in a very real way. It also helps that all the performances are great. A lot of directors try really hard to be “spontaneous” now a days and they usually fall flat. Acting usually doesn’t hold so much value for me in films, but it’s probably the most important aspect in a film like this.

More than anything, this feels like the film Lukas Moodysson would have made in between Fucking Amal and Lilya-4-ever. The obvious similarities with the former in growing up and being in love. Reminiscent of the latter with the themes of a lost family member, being confined/stuck in your house. The relationship between Aimie and Tran is also similar to the one between Lilya and Volodja. I mentioned before that Kim goes a bit overboard with the intentionally sloppy camera work. Moodysson is also a victim of this.

I am a bit lost for words with this film. It’s one that either gets to you or doesn’t. You relate with Aimie and find her interesting in every way or you think she’s whiny and hopeless; It could be seen as a less formal update on Mouchette. It might just be that this tries too hard to be intimate. This is not a fault at all, it’s a genuine film and that is very rare in modern cinema. Everything is really in place for me to love this but I guess it’s missing something intangible that all my favorites contain.

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3 responses

16 01 2008
Michael Kerpan

Have you seen any of LEE Yoon-ki’s films yet? This Charming Girl and Ad Lib Night are both quite good (or better) — while the flawed (but still interesting) Love Talk also deals with Koreans in North America.

I especially recommend Ad Lib Night, by the way — but like all of Lee’s other films, it has only been released on DVD in Korea (albeit with English subs)

16 01 2008
Jake Aesthete

The screenshots you have for this actually look nicer than how it looked when i saw it theatrically. The handheld camera didn’t bother me, if anything i think the film’s weak spot is the pacing. Some of the scenes felt too short and abrupt, i thought.

16 01 2008
sidehacker

“Have you seen any of LEE Yoon-ki’s films yet? This Charming Girl and Ad Lib Night are both quite good (or better) — while the flawed (but still interesting) Love Talk also deals with Koreans in North America.”

Yes, I’ve seen both. I prefer Ad Lib Night, if only for the finale. Lee’s films also do the shaky handheld thing but they’re a bit more stylized where this just feels like a straight-forward documentary with a few nice shots. Haven’t seen Love Talk.

“if anything i think the film’s weak spot is the pacing. Some of the scenes felt too short and abrupt, i thought.”

This is especially true early on, but it always felt a bit intentional. I thought the title was (somehow) trying to call attention to the very jarring editing.

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