Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Cannes 2013: Seon [The Line] Review

Director/Writer: Soo-Jin Kim

Starring: Kyu-Young Choi, Myung-Ha Lee

Synopsis: A young woman, home while her parents are away, takes her adolescent neighbour in after she finds him deserted on the stairs of her apartment. He claims a turbulent family situation has left him alone but as she spends more time with him she begins to think there is another reason for his desire to enter her home.

For a simple storyline, director Soo-Jin Kim piles on the mystery and a handful of themes to add quality to the lack of quantity. Within the parameters of short filmmaking, he is clearly not fazed by the limitations of what can be explored in under 30 minutes. Seon will warrant multiple viewings, when each watch will notify you of another motif and suspicion.

In Seon’s 27 minute runtime it achieves more tension than many recent theatrical thrillers. Perfectly storyboarded and edited, the film glides through its humble length, leaving you yearning for more. Had the film been developed into a feature the only change that may be needed is the boy’s casting – Kyu-Young Choi is unsubtle at points, muddying the restrained ambience. Myung-Ha Lee, on the other hand, excels at portraying the confused carer, balancing fear and good will with finesse.

Despite the acting being an integral aspect to what makes Seon great, it is more about the execution and craft of the film that sets in high regard. Not only does the film have the aesthetic attributes of a feature, it’s also advanced in its mise-en-scène and construction. Kim finely threads the fabric of his short, giving it a maturity and value way beyond its small genus.

Whether the budget prohibited Kim from hiring a composer, the lack of diegetic and non-diegetic music actually aids the atmosphere. The silence that often permeates the scenes intensifies the awkwardness of the situation. Not knowing what path the story may take is therefore enhanced by no musical cues. What’s more, the aforementioned mise-en-scène gives no clues apart from promoting the girl’s persona (“Salvation” printed on her t-shirt to clarify her Good Samaritan nature). The boy has no discernible features apart from his jittery disposition, altogether adding to the ambiguity of his intentions. You can create your own theories and pick apart certain shot; the puzzle of the boy’s being there is, by the end, wonderfully vague.

Seon was competing in the Cinefondation Selection at Cannes 2013. Also published Nisimazine Cannes 2013 (page 58)

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