Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sa-kwa (Kang Yi-Kwan)

Sa-kwa (Kang Yi-Kwan) 55 – This drama is refreshing because it starts out portraying everyday Korean life in a functional family that seems to genuinely like one another. When they embarrass one another, they do so in a minor, believable manner, as opposed to an exaggerated Meet the Parents-style fiasco. The degree to which these characters’ problems matter is made clear to us, but they aren’t wildly distorted for dramatic effect.

When the film chooses to focus on the relationship of Hyun-jung, the older daughter of the family, though, its sensitivity is somewhat reduced. Things get too touchy-feely as we’re given scene after scene in which characters are explaining why they acted as they did or why they feel as they do. The second hour of Sa-kwa grows tiresome as the indecisive girl weighs her options, but Moon So-ri is absolutely excellent in the pivotal role. Even as the movie drags on, she remains a vital presence on screen. Her transformation from the mischievous girl she is at the start of the film to the emotionally complicated woman that she ends up at the end is believable at every step.

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