4 October 2008 | refresh_daemon
A warm "memory" piece about infatuation
Harmonium in My Memory is a film from the early Corean film-making renaissance in the late 90's, featuring a couple actors who would go on to star in more acclaimed films. Harmonium itself is a quaint film, but an enjoyable one, featuring the story of a country girl who becomes infatuated by her newly arrived teacher, who himself develops an infatuation for his simultaneously arrived colleague.
The film doesn't play out within the conventions of expected Hollywood style story-telling; many scenes do not exist to further the plot, but rather, the piece is often more of a mood/memory piece, displaying often warm observations of a time now past in the mind of the character. While the actual story components don't amount to any sort of filmic catharsis, there is a bit of joy in how the story is told and it captures well the feelings of youth, as well as a natural sense of the environment where the characters grow up.
One thing that I did wish was that the film would weave tighter to either the girl or the teacher, as it becomes hard to tell the perspective of the film or whose memories we're wading in. Although we're bookended by the woman who was the girl, so much of the film is in the teacher's perspective that it becomes confusing at times and also probably providing more details than necessary--further editing could have made this film tighter.
The film does suffer a little from seeming slight. It doesn't come across as something compelling--a must watch, but rather a nice warm film to watch. As such, I can't strongly recommend it, but if you're looking to see a charming example of a schoolgirl crush or wander in the memories of growing up in the Corean countryside, this is as good a place as any to go. 7/10.