This Charming Girl

Director: Lee Yoon-ki

2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 99 min.

Don’t judge This Charming Girl by its misleading English title (the Korean title simply means ‘A Woman, Jeong-hye’). Far from being a fizzy romantic comedy, this impressive first feature by Lee Yoon-ki is a slow-burning, almost minimalist portrait of a young woman’s emotional emptiness. Kim Ji-su plays Jeong-hye, a clerk in a small suburban post office who lives on her own and goes through the same dreary routine every day. Brief memory flashbacks fill in Jeong-hye’s character: she seems devoted to the memory of her artist mom, and for company adopts a leery little kitten. On a rare and painful lunch date at a fast-food restaurant she meets a guy who informs her he’s getting married. He turns out to be her ex-husband, whose bed she fled on their wedding night. Shot largely handheld, in a fluid, easy way, and trimly edited, the film delivers its magic in its detail and is held together by Kim’s graceful performance as the lead character.

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