Eye For Film >> Movies >> In Between Days (2006) Film Review
In Between Days
Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown
In opening with the sound of feet crunching through snow followed by a long hand-held shot of a warmly-dressed girl trudging through a bleak winterscape, In Between Days neatly establishes its theme and strategy from the outset.
The theme, to borrow a term from Martin Heidegger, is thrownness, the idea of being throw into a situation not of one's choosing and having to make what one can of it.
The strategy is to say little explicitly and instead take an observational, almost documentary approach to its protagonist - the aforementioned girl, soon identified as Aimie, recently arrived in this unnamed North American city from Korea - letting the drama arise from the situation as she hooks up with an older, slightly more experienced and integrated fellow immigrant, Tran.
The risk is that while Aimie's confusion and alienation may well be successfully conveyed to the spectator, making their viewing experience analogous to Aimie's day-to-day life, this could also lead to the same feelings with regard to the film itself, such that it becomes one of those worthy-but-dull, too-personal exercises in solipsism: it's easy to confuse and alienate, rather more difficult to use these to communicate something else besides.
The secret of writer-director So Yong Kim's success here is her paradoxically undocumentary approach to mise-en-scene, whereby the rawness and immediacy that come with shooting on DV and handheld are combined with carefully thought out compositions, framings, sound design and editing that tells the attentive spectator what Aimie herself cannot or will not, sequences dominated by close-up shots that divorce her from the surrounding environment punctuated with still images of buildings framed against the sky accompanied by voice-off as she writes to her father back home.
Then there are the performances. Befitting a film free from coming of age cliché - there are potentially life changing events here, but life itself just goes on much as it was in the end - there's a refreshing naturalism to Jiseon Kim and Taegu Andy Kang's portrayals of Aimie and Tran, with that absence of manner that either comes from effectively being themselves or - more charitably - assured beyond their years.
If I had a criticism, it would be that the film perhaps goes a little too far in anonymising its location, as signalled by the official synopsis implicitly identifying it as somewhere in America whereas the EIFF programme notes state Toronto, Canada. It is maybe a minor point, with the generalities of the migrant experience, Korean or otherwise, quite possibly outweighing the specifics, but I can't help feeling that some of the differences between the two countries and what they might represent have been ignored or flattened out.
Otherwise, recommended to anyone who doesn't mind working a bit at a film.Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006