Reflection, a slow pace of life… and life, dictated by the four seasons, are themes, rarely depicted in Korean cinema; instead, more viewers are attracted to the adrenaline-packed productions, full of well-known actors. But 2018 marked a change of tide – the leading female “auteur of Korean New Wave cinema” Yim Soon-rye adopted Little Forest, the two-volume manga of Daisuke Igarashi of the same title, into a subtle and pure story about the life of a young girl who returns to her childhood rural village, Uiseong, in the North Gyeongsang Province. There, the audience follows Hye-won’s (Kim Tae-ri: The Handmaiden) healing journey, with her home cooking and the use of seasonal ingredients – the building bricks of a slow, nature-dependent lifestyle in the countryside.
Kim Tae-ri, an emerging and fearless young actress, portrays Hye-won, a girl who returns to the village after she failed to pass the state exams and broke up with her boyfriend. Upon Hye-won’s return home, she realizes that her mother (the wonderful Moon So-ri) left the home without a word; there is no food to be found, and Hye-won also finds herself having to deal with the house and the land itself – until her return, her ageing aunt took care of the two. Hye-won, who desires to be left alone, tries to carry on with her life; however, this doesn’t last – the news of her being back spreads quickly (…).
You can read the rest of this review on View of Korean Cinema.
Written by Maggie Gogler
Edited by Sanja Struna
All photos © Watermelon Pictures