This week we’re watching heart-wrenching melodrama A Girl at My Door starring talented child actress Kim Sae-ron and international star Bae Doo-na. Not one for the faint-hearted, A Girl at My Door is a challenging story about innocence and also a story challenging the very idea of innocence.
Police chief, Young-nam from Seoul is forced to relocate to a seaside town after an act of misconduct. She meets a young girl, Dohee, who is bullied by her classmates, physically abused by her father, mentally abused by her grandmother and left abandoned by her mother. Helpless, Dohee appears at her door one night after her father has chased her in one of his many drunken rages. The chief reluctantly invites her in and lets her stay the night. The more Young-nam allows herself to care for Dohee, the more things are mysteriously revealed.
Young-nam believes being her temporary guardian will help heal her and keep her from harm, but after years of trauma and psychological distress, Dohee is self-destructive and much more than Young-nam can handle. The father is seen as too much of an important asset in the community as his business is the town’s livelihood and they thrive from the revenue. Young-nam is the first person to take him on and this seems like a challenge as the police are used to handing him empty cautions.
A Girl at My Door is a promising film that delivers so much more. The inclusion of taboo subjects like illegal immigration, explicit homosexual themes, self-harm, alcoholism, really make this picture stand out from others of its kind. The traumatic story of child abuse has been relayed thousands of times not just in Asian cinema but on an international scale. The beauty of this particular narrative is through the intricate sub-plots embedded within the main story. Illegal immigration is brought to light after an immensely powerful scene involving an illegal worker wanting to go back home but being forced to stay for cheap labour. The most shocking is the reference to lesbianism and how the plot really drives this through introducing an ignorance to sexuality from the other characters.
Who is the victim? Is the question you’ll have in your head for days after watching this spectacular film. The answer seems obvious but, without revealing too much, it is worth the watch to debate this provoking question. Without watching first, it is hard to imagine a story about child abuse having reason to doubt innocence and questioning who the victim really is.
Director July Jung was nominated for several awards at the Cannes Film Festival 2014, an amazing achievement in itself but even more so considering this was her first full length feature. Her debut film has reached so many across the globe and proves the beautiful truth that cinema and art transcends language and words.
Check out the trailer!