April 12, 2018

Missing Review

After a lengthy hiatus, Lee Eon-hie finally grabbed a pen and paper – as well as camera – and created (with some help from Hong Eun-mi) her first thriller Missing, which features two well-known Korean actresses: Uhm Ji-won (Master, The Silenced, Wish) and Kong Hyo-jin (Single Rider, Boomerang Family, Crush and Blush).

Missing depicts a story of two women: Ji-sun (powerful performance by Uhm Ji-won), a divorcee who juggles between work, a custody battle and being a mom, and Han-mae (Kong Hyo-jin), a Chinese woman who becomes a nanny to Ji-sun’s daughter.

missing-4

As Ji-sun’s custody battle turns bitter and work slowly overwhelms her, she relies on the nanny more than ever; Han-mae becomes a part of the family and builds a subtle friendship with Ji-sun. One day, Ji-sun needs to work overtime and asks the girl to look after her daughter; without any hesitation, Han-mae reassures her employer that everything will be fine and that she should concentrate on work. Ji-sun leaves without a single worry. The next day, in the chaos of waking up late and getting ready for the court appearance, Ji-sun isn’t too concerned when her child and nanny are gone in the morning. The day passes by and the woman starts to worry as Han-mae and her daughter have not returned; now in great panic, Ji-sun asks all her neighbours if they saw them leave the house; to her surprise, no one confirms that they came across the nanny and the infant. While questioning her neighbours, Ji-sun notices a mysterious man who is at her door; she speak to the male, who apparently lent the girl money and now, he asks for the money back. In desperation, Ji-sun begs the man to help her find her daughter and Han-mae. During the search for her child, the woman learns the  dark and brutal life story of the nanny. One might become sympathetic towards Han-mae after hearing how turbulent her private life was. The question arises: what really happened to the girl that made her kidnap Ji-sun’s child?

It is not difficult to notice that Lee sees her main characters as strong and active females; both roles were exceptionally executed by aforementioned actresses. The film director,  concentrates on the male characters only to some extent, and when she does, she shows them in unfavourable colours: Ji-sun’s ex-husband is depicted as a mean and cold-hearted doctor, the police officers are incompetent and the crook is willing to help with the abduction of the woman’s child.

The characters of Ji-sun and Han-mae are brilliantly created by Lee; she portrayed them as real single women, with difficult issues, but with one thing in common: a child. Lee also shows that motherhood is a powerful force to be reckoned with; no matter what women go through in their lives, they will always be fierce protectors of their offspring.

The cinematography by Kim Sung-an is exceptional; every colour exposes the mood of the film; it seems like the background is also the focus of Kim Sung-an; aesthetically speaking, the film is very well shot on digital camera. Kim’s camera work really plays a considerable role in the emotional language of the film and the audiences’ emotional reaction to what’s happening on the screen.

missing-3-actors-and-director

 Uhm Ji-won, Lee Eon-hie and Kong Hyo-jin

Missing is a fairly engaging thriller; it is a gritty story “made by a woman about women”. That said, there is one issue: an easy and dull ending; the audience might be left dissatisfied with the mediocre ending to a decent film.

It was undoubtedly good to watch a film made by a woman, especially since the film industry is still vastly dominated by men. It always makes me feel content to see more female-made productions.

Rating: 3 stars

Written by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Sanja Struna

All photos © Dice Film

The review was originally published on January 19 2017, on http://www.viewofthearts.com

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About viewofkoreancinema

Maggie Gogler is a freelance film producer, production manager and she also works with children. She has a passion for Korean and World Cinema as well as music and arts. Maggie has been interested in cinema since she was 15 and discovered love for Korean films in 2004 when she saw Kim Ki Duk’s The Isle. She supports British and Asian independent film-making and enjoys producing creative and interesting projects. Maggie is the co-founder of View of the Arts and its sister website View of Korean Cinema. Sanja Struna is a freelance translator, occasional writer and a perpetual dreamer. Film is her first and longest-lasting love; since writing is her second, she saw the light a couple of years ago, let the two join hands and entered the field of film journalism. She has honed her knowledge through various film festivals which she either worked for or frequented. She is currently harboring a fascination with all things Korean and condones losing sleep if that means she can watch a good Korean film or drama. Sanja is the editor of View of the Arts and co-founder of View of Korean Cinema.

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