There is nothing more distressing for parents than to lose a child. It is no wonder that the topic is one of the hardest to convey on the screen, especially so since the grief and unimaginable suffering take on many different faces and stages. The complex, confusing and isolating feelings associated with the loss of a beloved son, as well as guilt, are at the core of Shin Dong-seok’s debut feature Last Child. 

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Sung-cheol (Choi Moo-seong: The Discloser, Room No.7) and Mi-sook (Kim Yeo-jin: TV Drama – Where Stars Land), a married couple, are lost in grief after losing their teenage son, who accidentally drowned while trying to save his school friend Ki-hyun (Seong Yoo-bin: Along With the Gods: The Two WorldsI Can Speak). The two parents deal with the grief differently; they don’t speak much about the incident until Mi-sook comes up with the idea of having another child. Six months pass, and Sung-cheol begins to wonder what happened to Ki-hyun; the latter unexpectedly dropped out of high school and now works as a delivery boy. After meeting him, Sung-cheol recognizes that the young man is in need of  guidance and support. Within a short period of time, Sung-cheol and Mi-sook build a good relationship with the teenager; they enjoy each other’s company and the couple slowly start to accept the boy as their own. However, Ki-hyun carries a secret that is gradually eating him up from the inside; will the truth of what happened make the bond between the three crumble?

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Last Child realistically portrays the shattering experience of losing a child. It also provides a wonderful platform for a conversation about a variety of human emotions and behaviours during the process of grieving. In a subtle way, Shin Dong-seok draws an incredible portrait of the three protagonists while maintaining a good pace, including in the last, crucial 20 minutes of the film. The filmmaker knows how to keep the viewers invested in the story without getting them detached due to the complicated, harsh reality of pain and complexity of human relationships as the characters in the film face the ultimate hardship.

With flawless performances by Choi Moo-seong, Kim Yeo-jin and especially the 18-year-old Seong Yoo-bin, Last Child successfully pulls the audience into the film. Yoo-bin is the true star of the film; he gave his best performance to date. Watching him combine a palette of emotions – from fear to sadness, as he builds his courage to tell the truth about the death of Sung-cheol’ and Mi-sook’s son – is sublime; this young actor is a force to be reckoned with in the future.

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Lee Zi-hoon, the film’s cinematographer, coherently shot the action, actors and settings are well framed and with clean editing by Lee Young-lim and his flawless transition between scenes makes Last Child be a compelling story about the hope in human righteousness and atonement.

Rating: 4-stars

Written by Maggie Gogler

Edited by Sanja Struna

All photos © Last Child 

The article was originally posted on October 8, 2018 on 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.

Category

Film, Film Festival, HOME