2014’s Cart, directed by Boo Ji-young, is more of a pre-cursor than anything else. Sombre, slow-paced, and cool-toned, this is a movie that builds up to the climax in slow increments.
It is a charming film, coupling the mundane aspect of suburban life in Korea with the drive and the fire of women fighting for their livelihoods. But it’s the type of film that attracts a niche audience.
Cart follows Sunhee (Yum Jungah), a mother of two and a temporary worker at a large supermarket. She’s a quiet, thoughtful character though with pockets of outbursts. She juggles her relationship with her oldest son (played by EXO’s Do Kyungsoo), her female colleagues, and the large corporation attempting to lay her off.
Based on true stories, including a 2007 protest by temporary workers at Hoover supermarket, this is a film about a different kind of female perspective.
Its female-led ensemble portrays women of all ages, in social situations uncommonly portrayed: a young single mother, an older single mother. And it pits their reservations, their selfishness, and their selflessness against each other.
There is nothing necessarily groundbreaking in Cart – not in cinematography or costume design, or in hype.
This is a movie that quietly exposes some of the foundational injustices in South Korean society that are normally glossed over in K-dramas and the like.
It’s a movie worth watching if only for noting the difference in approach to the kinds of movies that regularly make the box office best sellers.
Cart has a gentle approach and, perhaps, a disappointing end of affairs. But it ignites a conversation – about the role of women, their relationships with each other, and the lengths they can and arguably should go for each other.
This isn’t a movie that will be enjoyed by everyone – but it is one that’s hard to forget.