Boomerang Family


Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

"Everyone, bar one character, shouts, and when they are not shouting they are usually hitting someone or something or being slapped about themselves."

Tired of all those Korean action thrillers, probably the country’s best known export to the UK market given the huge impact Park Chan-wook made with his Vengeance Trilogy? Well, Boomerang Family, which played at the 2013 Korean Film Festival and is now out on DVD from Third Window Films, is your chance to experience the flavour of Korea’s film comedies.

It is a ‘family comedy' only in the sense that the plot centres on a family: for those who like their humour dark, rest assured this comes laced with black comedy, a thick atmosphere of dysfunctional gloom and the customary Korean topping of crunching violence. Despite the laughs, it is somewhat all over the place tone and plot wise, propelled along at a riotous pace, with the volume dial never dropping below max. Everyone, bar one character, shouts, and when they are not shouting they are usually hitting someone or something or being slapped about themselves.

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The story concerns a troubled young film director, In-mo (Park Hae-il)- who has been out of work since his last film flopped at the box office and his wife ran out on him. We don't learn this right away, but given that the opening scenes of the film depict his attempted hanging in his flat (interrupted only by a call from his blissfully imperturbable mother), we can assume all is not well with him. It turns out his mother (Youn Yuh-jung) has a helping hand to offer by calling him back to the family apartment. In-mo takes her up on her offer, but it soon becomes clear that this is a combustible time to return to the family heartland.

For one thing, In-mo’s older brother, Han-mo (Yoon Je-moon), is a former gangster and five-time convict who has already booked his space as the resident couch potato. Joining the party is their twice-divorced, adulterous sister, Mi-yeon (Kong Hyo-jin),and her mouthy pre-teen daughter, Min-gyeong (Jin Ji-hee). Somehow everyone crams into this tiny apartment, and despite the fireworks, insults and fists beginning to fly almost straight away, mother seems unflappable in her determination to make sure everyone is well fed and turned out.

The events of the film cover several weeks of trials and tribulations: Han-mo is clearly not done with the thug life, Mi-yoeon pursues a new suitor, Min-gyeong blackmails her dimwitted uncles at various times much to her delight. But the more time passes, the more it becomes clear that the quiet In-mo might the the real powder keg, and the one most in need of help from his seemingly hopeless family circle.

The stellar cast (Park Hae-il, for example, was in Bong Joon-Ho’s The Host) and well known director (Song Hae-sung helmed 2010 thriller A Better Tomorrow) helped make this a hit in its native Korea. For viewers new to Korean cinema, the constant high pitch of the on screen antics might grate, and the shifts from family comedy and slapstick into quite unpleasant violence (including against women) might sit uncomfortably with some, though they might also be pleasantly surprised at how funny the film is and how energetic the performances are.

Reviewed on: 24 Mar 2014
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Boomerang Family packshot
Three grown-up siblings struggle to get along after circumstances force them to move back in with their mother.

Director: Hae-sung Song

Writer: Hae-sung Song

Starring: Ji-hee Jin, Hyo-jin Kong, Hae-il Park, Yeo-jeong Yoon, Je-mun Yun

Year: 2013

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: South Korea


London Korean 2013

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