Family, A

Director: Lee Jeong- cheol

2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 94 min.

Familiar elements in South Korean cinema come together in subtle, interesting ways in A Family, a restrained and involving portrait of a widower and his two children whose life together is redefined by the daughter’s criminal connections. Released on parole after three years in prison, Lee Jeong-eun (Su Ae) is welcomed by her 8-year-old brother, but coolly received by her dad. She looks up the crime boss she used to work for, Park Chang-weon, now a violent psychotic who claims she stole money from him. When Chang-weon starts putting the squeeze on her father for the cash, Jeong-eun is caught between saving her nest egg and protecting the family she’s only just beginning to understand. First time writer-director Lee Jeong-cheol flavours the simple story with a mass of small details that enriches the emotional texture. Su takes what could easily have been just another insolent teddy-girl role and invests it with calm, purposeful defiance.

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