“Home of Hummingbird” is a coming-of-age story a couple of lonely and awkward teenager struggling to determine who they’re and who they hope to turn into in a time of upheaval each of their private life and within the outdoors world. Primarily based on that description alone, there is a wonderful probability that a lot of you’re having flashbacks to any variety of motion pictures which have match, albeit generally awkwardly, these parameters. This one, nevertheless, is without doubt one of the good ones—a considerate and engrossing tackle a well-recognized theme that’s boosted immeasurably by the contributions of author/director Bora Kim and younger lead actress Ji-hu Park. “Home of Hummingbird” deserves a spot alongside the likes of “The Virgin Suicides,” “The Ocean of Helena Lee” and “Eighth Grade” as one of the vital figuring out cinematic takes from latest years on the pains and occasional pleasures of feminine adolescence.
The movie is ready in Seoul, South Korea in 1994, a 12 months that will show to be an particularly vital one within the nation’s latest historical past, starting from the nation’s participation within the World Cup to the demise of North Korean chief Kim Il-sung, to an notorious tragic catastrophe that I cannot go into any additional because it does turn into a key component of the narrative. Nevertheless, the story’s true focus is on Eun-hee (Park), an eighth grade woman whose personal life is as tumultuous as something occurring within the outdoors world. At house, her mother and father (Lee Seungyeon and Jeong Ingi), who run a rice cake store, spend all their time drilling the significance of schooling into her and her older siblings, favourite son Daehoon (Son Sangyeon) and sister Suhee (Bak Suyeon)—the relentless stress has already pushed Daehoon across the bend to the purpose the place he beats on Eun-hee to alleviate his frustration and induced Suhee to just about withdraw. At college, her trainer has already roughly written her off, and her wealthy classmates whisper that she’s going to at some point be working as a maid for them. Nevertheless, Eun-hee just isn’t unintelligent or a troublemaker—it is simply that her pursuits and skills, significantly a aptitude for drawing, will not be the sort that may actually flourish in such regimented environment, particularly in a society the place males have already got the higher hand in practically all respects.
Over the course of the subsequent few months, Eun-hee struggles to bear up beneath the final indifference of her mother and father and academics, the bodily violence of her older brother (who isn’t taken to activity for his abuse) and the final day-to-day cruelties discovered in school. She additionally finds herself coping with a well being scare that grows in significance over time and which her mother and father present zero curiosity in till it turns into an excessive amount of of an issue to disregard. Eun-hee’s life isn’t totally full of miseries, nevertheless. She hangs out with finest good friend Ji-Suk (Website positioning-yoon Park) stepping into low-degree mischief, no less than till a misadventure in shoplifting goes sideways. There are a few romantic prospects that flip up as properly—one a boy, Ji-wan (Yoon-seo Jeong), that she shares a few kisses with whilst we will sense that it gained’t final for lengthy, and the opposite a woman named Yuri (Hye-in Seol), who provides her a sort of unrestrained affection that she has by no means actually skilled earlier than. Most importantly, there’s Younger-ji (Sae-hyuk Kim), her new Chinese language character tutor who turns into arguably the primary particular person in her life to not solely discover her distinctive presents however provide an actual sense of hope that there’s a world awaiting her that may absolutely recognize them.
Whereas she has performed a few brief movies earlier than, “Home of Hummingbird” marks Kim’s characteristic debut however one can be hard-pressed to note because of the talent she demonstrates as a author and director. Though there are doubtlessly features of the story that may resonate extra deeply with Korean audiences (who will presumably be extra primed for the main occasion that the story is constructing in the direction of within the last scenes), she finds a approach of recognizing and depicting the emotional perils of adolescence—particularly the way in which wherein seemingly unshakeable friendships can activate a dime—in ways in which reduce throughout all cultural boundaries. (When Eun-hee is blown off by a former good friend with a cooly dismissive “That was final semester,” one hardly even must learn the subtitle to really feel the affect of that exact blow.) On the similar time, Kim doesn’t milk the fabric for melodrama like a much less assured filmmaker would possibly—loads occurs to Eun-hee over the interval proven right here however you by no means get the sense that issues are being piled on with a purpose to engender further sympathy for her. In truth, Kim employs an unusually empathetic method to just about all of the characters to counsel that they’re actual folks and never simply plot factors—even essentially the most ostensibly hateful character, her abusive brother, is given a few moments to underscore simply how broken he’s and the way that has pushed him to lash out for no ostensible cause. The one factor that betrays this as a primary characteristic is that it possibly goes on a bit too lengthy for its personal good. Even then, it by no means outstays its welcome.
Moreover, the prolonged working time for “Home of Hummingbird” means we get to spend extra time watching Ji-hu Park delivering what is bound to go down as one of the vital notable breakthrough performances of the 12 months. She is on-screen for practically each single one of many movie’s 138 minutes and there’s not one when she is something lower than completely mesmerizing. Whether or not experiencing some small and easy pleasure like listening to music, or attempting to return to phrases with conditions that will flooring most adults, she is alternately profitable and heartbreaking as she conjures up immediately recognizable feelings (together with some they might have undergone years of remedy to attempt to overlook) and her one-on-one scenes with Sae-byeok Kim as her inspirational trainer (a cliche character that proves to be something however in her arms) are a marvel. Via her standout work, she brings a power to Eun-hee that reassures viewers that irrespective of how bleak issues could get for her character, she’s going to at some point not solely make it by her tribulations unbroken, however use these experiences for her future endeavors. Maybe sometime, she’s going to write and direct a movie as great as “Home of Hummingbird.”