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  • Non actors with little rehearsing, but beautifully acted. Few dialogs but with a lot said by eye movements and facial expressions. One could complain about the film being a tad slow, but the story demands such a treatment. The incipient love between two teens coming of age evolves gradually and with tentative steps, sometimes forwards, at other times backwards. The emotional ups and downs are subtly captured. The story is nicely tempered and sprinkled with minor twists to keep us interested. Too bad the ending is rushed.

    The camera work is excellent with an eye for colors and effective framing of close-ups. Good directing and editing.

    Filmed in Toronto. Main actress from New Jersey and actor from Toronto.
  • liehtzu1 November 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    Pusan Film Festival Reviews 6: In Between Days (Kim So-yong)

    Despite the Korean name attached to the director's credit it's a Canadian production shot in wintry Toronto, directed by a woman who spent most of her life in Los Angeles.

    Restless, unhappy Aimee is a Korean immigrant who spends her days loafing with only friend and fellow Korean immigrant Tran, who she's too shy to tell she's in love with. Her mother is overworked and distant, she's out of place in Canadian culture, and spends her time drawing in her notebook during her English class at school until she finally gets too bored and quits. Most of the film is shot in Korean, and it isn't until about two-thirds of the way through that Aimee demonstrates that she can actually speak English. The lack of eventfulness in the film is punctuated by static shots of the Toronto skyline and and Aimee voicing the feelings she represses in imaginary conversations with her departed father, who lives back in Korea. Though Tran probably feels the same way for Aimee as she does about him, she waits too long to tell him - and by then he's drifted towards a flashier, squeaky-voiced Asian-Canadian girl.

    "In Between Days" is a fine debut film about loneliness and displacement that gracefully manages to avoid falling into art film cliché. It's an incredibly rare thing to see this degree of assuredness and faith in silent moments, brief glances, and meaning underlying seemingly insignificant conversation from an American filmmaker. The film relies on simplicity and quiet strength when so many American "indie" films wallow in their own pretentious, desperate attempts to make saying nothing at all sound profound.
  • I had been wanting to watch this film so long. I read a review in one of the indie film magazine early this year, and it really caught my attention. One of the best reviews I've ever read. I forgot the critic's name, but it said something like "If only I could make a film this good." What better review can a filmmaker expect?

    So, when I found out it was screening at the IFC center only a short period, I went to watch it. And it took my breath away from the very first scene. Very artistic shots. Heavily relied on medium and close-up shots. They seem almost daring. It's the kind of daring and freshness I expect to see in the first feature of an independent filmmaker. Very personal, intimate and touching. Authentic style far from convention. She showed such a small movie could be so big.

    I left the theater and came right back home. Instead of heading out to the Independence Day celebration party, I decided to paint. I'm not a painter, but I had to do something creative so that the inspiration I got from the movie wouldn't go waste.
  • "In Between Days" is an understated, deceptively simple account of a young girl's first encounter with love.

    A recent immigrant from Korea, Aimie is a taciturn, moody teen who lives with her mother in a working-class section of Ontario, Canada. When she isn't sitting off in a corner by herself, Aimie is hanging out with Tran, a boy from school who, from the looks of things, is her only real friend. Almost inevitably, perhaps, the relationship begins to take a decidedly romantic turn, as together, these two inexperienced youngsters venture into that dangerous emotional minefield known as adolescence. However, thanks to her status as an immigrant, Aimie has the added burden of being essentially a stranger in a strange land, less familiar than most of the other kids with the language and culture of the world around her.

    Rather than rely on a heavily-plotted narrative to tell his story, first-time director So Yon Kim creates drama through observation, training his camera on the two main characters as they sit in their rooms or wander the streets and neighborhoods, eating at fast-food joints, engaging in monosyllabic conversations, groping through bouts of clumsy lovemaking, and even lifting a car radio or two when the opportunity presents itself. There's a definite air of improvisation to the work, thanks to the unforced nature of the writing and the extraordinarily naturalistic performances by Jiseon Kim and Taegu Andy Kang in the lead roles. Without the slightest hint of melodrama, the movie deftly captures all the awkwardness and heartbreak, all the self-generated "drama" and endless game-playing that are an essential part of any first love.

    Kim's spare film-making style - featuring an abundance of tightly-framed close shots, no background music and stark wintry locales - perfectly complements the melancholic tone of the story. Particularly poignant are the voice-over recitations of Aimie's diary entries addressed to her father, as she pours her heart out to a man who, for all intents and purposes, has no real interest in the daughter he long ago abandoned.

    Even though Aimie may appear at times to be just a few oxycontin pills shy of a full-blown depression, she is pretty much just your typical average teen, being forced to confront feelings and emotions that are entirely new and unfamiliar to her. After all, it isn't like adolescence comes with a road map for any of us, and Aimie and Tran soon learn that they must forge their own path through this alien territory without a great deal of support from the outside world. (Aimie's mother is too hardworking, self-absorbed and clueless to be of much help in the guidance department). That the couple's efforts in that direction are faltering and stumbling, to say the least, is what makes "In Between Days" a universal experience we can all relate to.
  • This film is unfortunately destined to only be truly appreciated by a smaller audience, due to it's subject matter, which is a crying shame. I thought of the Italian neo-realists as I watched this film, and how this was a wonderful example of how film can illuminate the sometimes hidden sides of ordinary life. The acting was almost imperceptible, which I mean as a high compliment. The performances are so natural and relaxed in the sense that everything is allowed to be very low key and real, you never have a sense that you are watching actors. They seem to be real people whose lives you are gaining a temporary window in to, which combined with the lingering, atmospheric cinematography which often clings closely to the characters, creates a stunning (and very difficult to achieve) sense of reality. It's funny, and only partly relevant, but I have to give a personal example of how this film affected me. I have been the only non-Japanese member in 4 bands, and spent a few years surrounded by mostly Japanese people and culture. While Japanese culture was always a personal fascination for me, and it was an incredible experience to play with bands whose music I loved, to my dismay and discredit, I eventually found myself feeling alienated. Much of my joy seemed to, against my wishes, turn to a slight bitterness and a loneliness that to this day I find difficult to explain, and which I mostly kept inside and never shared with my Japanese friends. What was once a feeling of elation had somehow turned into a feeling that I was always going to be an outsider, and I'm not so sure that I have anyone to blame for this feeling except for myself. This film, while dealing entirely with a different culture, made me examine these feelings, and it gave me, I think, a better understanding of how many of my band mates (several of which I lived with for a few years) may have felt living here in NYC. Again, not that any of it specifically applied, but it is that rare kind of movie that causes you to examine your own life and think about other people, many of which you may only meet peripherally, and how they struggle with happiness in day to day life. On a unrelated note, here in Manhattan I have often seen Asian women who perhaps did not fit the mold of the cute, perky westernized or "Hello Kitty" anime gal that men seem to prefer, and noted in some an almost palpable unhappiness, a sense that this person is lonely and kind of lost in this busy city and culture. Certainly this can be applied to anyone we pass on the street and happen to notice wears some quality of sadness, but what was truly haunting about this film is I suddenly felt like I understood one of these small lost stories, so to speak. It made me examine my own feelings of alienation and how I arrived at them, and it made me think about how my Japanese friends felt, living in NYC and so far away from the country and culture of their birth, and also why, perhaps, they seemed to cling to their own cultures and remain with other Japanese, despite having chosen to move to NY. If all this seems rambling and unclear, it's my own fault for not being able to put how this film made me feel in to words. It's one of the rare films I have ever seen that made me think about the real people we know in our lives and pass on the street every day, and I cannot help but think if everyone were to have this experience cinematically, we might all begin to understand one another better, and also know how much we are all alike.
  • While many Hollywood movies portray adolescents as either bumbling fools or self assured heroes, So Yong Kim's remarkable first feature, In Between Days allows us to see that adolescence can be a strange, disorienting place, filled with loneliness and melancholy. Winner of a special jury prize at Sundance, In Between Days is an honest and affecting coming-of-age story about a Korean immigrant girl caught in limbo between the passing of childhood and the onset of maturity. Though not autobiographical, In Between Days is a personal film for 40-year-old director So Yong Kim who grew up as a Korean immigrant in East Los Angeles.

    Reminiscent of the minimalist cinema of the Dardenne Brothers and Hou Hsiao-hsien, Kim's hand-held camera and long silences create a startling sense of immediacy. The film opens with recent immigrant Aimie (Jiseon Kim), in her parka trudging through the snow in an unnamed North American city. Having moved from Korea with her single mom (Bokja Kim), Aimie attends English classes but is not fully engaged in the process. Torn between dependence on and resentment of her mother and her dreams of reuniting with her father to whom she writes or imagines poetic letters, Aimie's problems are compounded by feelings of cultural dislocation and her inability to express emotion. Her only refuge is Tran (Kaegu Andy Kang), a sweet but lethargic Korean boy who, though more assimilated than Aimie, is just as protective of his feelings.

    Though Aimie tries to win him over by quitting one of her classes to be able to buy him a chain bracelet, he seems to regard her only as a friend. Much of their time is taken up with the daily banality of waiting for the bus, visits to the video arcade, eating at local fast food restaurants, and being bored. Aimie apparently wants to have a more committed relationship but suggesting a hand job or covertly feeling her breast when she is asleep is about as far as he is willing to go to bring himself to the relationship. Things become strained when Tran flirts with Michelle (Gina Kim), a more Westernized girl and Aimie is seen talking and smoking with a friend Steve at a party.

    Both Aimie and Tran are uncertain of their feelings and resort to playing mind games and even petty theft that leave the relationship hanging and Kim singing a forlorn song in a karaoke bar - "For your affection, for my love, I find love, I find it gone, covered in tears, covered in tears, only for you." In Between Days, named for a hit song by the Cure, was shot in Toronto during the winter giving the film a feeling of forbidding but often exquisite coldness.

    Kim, whose expressive face acutely reflects her feelings of alienation, was discovered by the director working in a New Jersey café while Kang was spotted at a Toronto nightclub. In spite of the fact that neither has acted before, their mostly improvised dialogue is very real and they have excellent chemistry together. Though the film's slow pace may discourage some who do not like to work at watching a movie, In Between Days is a thoughtful and intimate drama that reflects the authenticity of Kim's personal experience. It has made me eagerly anticipate her new film Treeless Mountain, also based on impressions from her childhood, due to open this month.