Way Home, The
Director: Lee Jung-Hyang
Cast: Yoo Seung-Ho, Kim Eul-Boon, Dong Hyo-Hee
The Way Home is the second highest grossed movie in Korea in 2002. Without a recognizable cast and a running time that lasts under 90 minutes, one may wonder, what is so special about this movie?
The plotline is very simple, it is all about this seven year old kid and his seventy seven years old grandmother. Sang-woo (Yoo Seung-Ho) stays in her grandmother's home in the rural area for two months. A spoiled kid from the city is forced to dwell in a place that has no television or any entertainment, you can expect how hard it is for him to adapt to this new environment. Moreover, his grandmother is mute, which makes it harder for them to communicate. The theme of the story is obvious, it aims at telling us the importance of love through the interaction of the kid and his granny. Not only should we value our elder family members, we should also learn how to appreciate the beauty of nature. The austere and primitive life in the rural area may seem dull at first glance, but if you try to sit back and relax, you will be able to discover the preciousness of nature and simplicity .
Seriously speaking, the subject matter of this movie is not very peculiar. It has been used in many mainland films before. The script also lacks any dramatic tension, as well as an ending that is more or less predictable. What is good about this film is the authentic depiction of the life of the characters. Different from its tear-jerking counterparts, this movie does not contain any hackneyed plot twist at all. Director Lee Jung-hyang employs a documentary style to survey the two protagonists. Routine activities like cooking and hair trimming are well captured that stir up some funny moments. The most important thing is that, you won't feel that the actors are trying to "act out" their parts, they just perform so natural and real. It is this freshness and authenticity that move the audience gradually.
The two protagonists of this film, Kim Eul-boon and Yoo Seung-ho, are non-professional actors. Fortunately, their inexperience do not hinder them to perform brilliantly, especially Kim Eul-boon, her stony face suits the role of the mute grandmother perfectly. The only part that bothers me is the behavior of the grandson. What he does is quite annoying, but Yoo Seung-ho is really a beloved kid, when you see him smiling innocently, you will forgive all his mischief.
Apparently, The Way Home does not have a very dramatic story, but I would not be too surprised to see that it was welcomed by the audience in Korea, as Korean audiences are always more receptive than Hong Kong, America or even Japanese viewers. Perhaps Korea is few of the mainstream film markets in the world that are still not fully colonized by Hollywood productions yet, or is it?
The HK version of the DVD, which was released before the Korean version, is excellent. Similar to the DVD of My Sassy Girl, Edko includes a lot of bonus materials like trailers and making of featurette on the disc, and they are generous enough to subtitle some of the bonus materials.
Cool guy(s) - Kim Eul-boon
Reviewed by: Kantorates