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  • "Among all the people you know, how many really understand what's going on inside you?"

    House of Hummingbird is a bleak but beautifully told story of a girl drowning in childhood neglect who learns how to live by and for herself as she is confronted with the true transience and fragility of the bridges that connect us with others. Set in 1994 Seoul, the film is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age of both the director and her country.

    The few melodramatic steps taken by the script are counterbalanced by how it avoids being overly cinematic; you forget you are watching a film. It's this distinction that spares it from a comparison to Eighth Grade. Where Bo Burnham crafted an expressive, modern, and quintessentially teenage coming-of-age, Bora Kim gives us a muted and nuanced story of an ageless soul coming to terms with a lonely existence. The nature of Eunhee's relationships with her Chinese teacher and one of her classmates bears a closer resemblance to Lost in Translation. While the themes of how we define family and fending for ourselves are both reminiscent of the 2018 Cannes darling Shoplifters.

    At karaoke, Eunhee sings into the mic:

    🎶 "Love is like glass. It shines so beautifully but breaks so easily. And how difficult it is now as I deal with the pieces..." 🎶

    The sad notes of the film are hard-hitting, but like her teacher says when Eunhee asks about the residents protesting relocation, "Don't pity them. We don't really know their lives." And so are we reminded as such regarding the central character.

    The film is framed from her perspective, letting us into this world only so far as Eunhee understands it. Free of stereotypes and cliches, the film takes us so far into the mental seclusion of adolescence, right to the home of internal angst--to the point where we are offended on behalf of Eunhee when someone says to her, "You only think about yourself..." It's only then we surface from the depths of her perspective.

    House of Hummingbird is a true gem of a film. With the exception of an amateurish plot point written into the end, the film is perfect. Biggest surprise of the festival so far. .
  • Set in 1994, the film focuses on a 14 year old girl struggling with family and school, while trying to find her identity, which is something we all go through at that age, I guess. There were a few subject matters that were very well tackled in the film, considering the ages of the young actors, and more importantly the time period the film is supposed to be based on. Kids are usually very good in dramas, so there were no surprises in terms of their performances. There's a major event in the film that occurred in the mid 90s, which most foreigners probably aren't aware of, and which answers the question as to why the film was set in that period.

    The only qualm I had with this film was its pace. Some scenes, in an effort to come across as poetic, just dragged on a tad bit.
  • Accurately represented conflicts between a Korean school girl and ordinary family in Gangnam district in 1994.

    Korean family living in the same format of house as others. The purpose of children's life is captivated in school and cram school to be enrolled in the top university. Not much conversation between parents and children apart from school record. Therefore life in children is no fun at all.

    Narrated well about how the schoolgirl tried to find the purpose of life and small fun things from the boring but unfair life.
  • I'm no fan of ornaments and symbolism yet I hypocritically wanted the 100th Korean movie I watched to be one to remember. My choice of 'House of the Hummingbird' hit the target.

    It's a coming-of-age story of a young teenager living in a challenging home environment whilst her need for love brings its own obstacles at school. Child abuse, in its psychological form, is evident but not simple in that the entire family is suffering. I even felt a tinge of pity for the nasty father who obviously had his own unnamed demons to deal with. The lesbian undertone was tasteful and the use of a real disaster an interesting angle.

    Without shocks and melodrama, this slowburner was glued by the narrative. Consequently, screenwriter and director Kim Bora deserves the biggest kudos. That this was her first movie is remarkable, making her one I will always follow.

    Actress Park Ji-hoo was perfectly cast, this also her first movie. The cinemaphotography deserves applause too.

    Afterwards, I was pleased to read that 'House of the Hummingbird' has won many awards, including best at the Berlin and Busan film festivals.