Release date – N/A, Cert – N/A , Run-time – 1 hour 32 minutes, Director – Ga-eun Yoon
A young girl (Kim Na-Yeon) tries to bring her warring parents together while escaping to worlds of imagination with her two new best friends.
One of the most difficult things to do in a film is to put the viewer in the position of a child. Showing things from the perspective of a young person is something that few filmmakers have been able to do properly, Spielberg has shown his ability to do this in some of his more fantasy based features, such as E.T. and Hook, and more recently Sean Baker took a more realistic approach with 2017’s The Florida Project. In many ways South Korean writer-director Ga-eun Yoon’s latest feature shares some similarities with The Florida Project, at times feeling very much like the heartbreaking build-up to the final minute; all while never forgetting the essence of childhood innocence.
The House Of Us follows Hana (Kim Na-Yeon), a young girl who spends most of her time alone in the city in which she lives. Her biggest wish is to simply cook a meal for her family so they can all sit together and eat, however due to tensions between her constantly arguing parents even eating together doesn’t seem to be permitted. It’s made apparent that Hana’s parents are on the edge of divorce, something which she tries to repair while her older brother claims that he wishes they would get on with to stop the hate, upset and anger in the house. Ideas such as divorce, and many matters of the adult world, are shown through the lens of an adult’s point of view, leading to effective transitions from tone to tone as we switch from joyful childhood innocence to the upset and stresses of grown-up life. Leading to a film that can transition from uplift to shattering heartbreak in moments.
It’s not long until Hana finally comes across two younger girls who quickly become her two best friends. Sisters, Yoomi (Kim Shi-A) and Yoojin (Joo Ye-Rim). The three spend much time at the flat of the two sisters, which when it’s revealed that it has been put up for sale, they try to do all they can to put visitors off from even having a proper look round. It’s the friendship between the three wonderfully performed central figures that brings about much of the heartwarming innocence and joy of the film. It’s almost impossible to remove the smile from your face during the scenes of the girls simply talking to each other and using their imaginations to create their own fun, enhanced by the brightly lit colour palette that much of the scenery holds. Without the worry of parents arguing, neither of Yoomi and Yoojin’s parents seem to ever be present, however the time the girls spend together removes any worries and is treasured even more when compared to their separate home lives, and the gradually rising fear of childhood separation.
While what there is of plot isn’t overly grand, sprawling or complex there’s something about the overall simplicity of Yoon’s feature that makes it shout all the more louder. Guiding the viewer into the one that’s created and allowing them to forget most of their worries for just over 90 minutes as they find themselves swept up in all the different emotions that her film has to offer. While the loose narrative does make the film begin to ebb towards the end, feeling unsure as to what should be its final note and beginning to feel slightly overdone there are still hints of the uplift and sadness that the previous scenes were overflowing with. And for most of the piece there’s something about the overall simplicity that brings about much of the heart.
While it might begin to ebb in the final stages the overall heart, warmth, emotion and joy of childhood innocence that Ga-eun Yoon holds closely in The House Of Us is more than enough to make it a truly treasured experience.