Return to Seoul is as much a character study as it is a narrative. The film is about Freddy, a 25-year-old French woman who returns to South Korea, where she was born, for eight years.
This study, by writer-director Davey Chu, is compelling, revealing, and shocking thanks to its script and the stunning performance of Park Ji-min, who is too sweet to believe that “Return to Seoul” is the first episode of his movie. . .
The picture opens with Freddie checking into a hotel in Seoul, after returning to Korea, where she tells the employee “Nothing is planned”. However, the truth is that Freddy, also known as Frederick, the name given to him by his French adoptive parents, is searching for his biological mother and father.
Through the Korea Adoption Service, which will contact the parents and, if they agree, arrange to meet the adult children, Freddy is reunited with his father (veteran Korean actor Oh Kwang-Ruk) one bus ride from the city of Seoul.
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But Chu is not interested in telling some kind of happy reunion story. Her father is a heavy drinker and heartbroken because he abandoned his daughter decades ago and tries to convince her to stay in Korea, join her new family and let him find a man to marry.
To say Freddy isn’t interested is an understatement, which leads to a grinding confrontation that ends the first part of the movie.
Five years later, a now very different Freddy meets arms dealer Andre (Louis Du of Linkosaing) during a “booty call” that turns out to be the first step to a job interview. Then she returns to the Seoul subway, where she lives with a tattoo artist at a dance club, to loud music to celebrate her birthday, which she tries to forget.
She continues to search for her mother and two years later, when she returns to Korea, she is now working for Andre selling rockets.
Over the years, Freddy’s changes—from a naive subway traveler to a professional—are revealed by Cho, and especially by Park, who initially longs as he plays the pesky, self-propelled but internally torn Freddy in the semi-silence, otherwise . Able to communicate effectively with anyone.
This barrier falls, but Freddy is still seemingly carefree yet haunted by her past. If the movie has a message, be careful not to ask about your past.
Return to Seoul, which was Cambodia’s Oscar entry because Cho was born in France to Cambodian parents, is an amazingly shot film that picks up on characters and shows parts of South Korea and aspects of life not seen much in the movie. .
Cho’s painting could use a more narrative touch to tie its three sections together, but with Freddy at its center throughout, it stands as a study of a young woman who finds herself and her past most troubling, and therefore more potent and memorable.
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