Pinterest
NewsLetter DailyWeekly
 
My HanCinema | Sign up, Why ? Your E-mail   Password    Auto| Help
HanCinema :: The Korean Movie and Drama Database, discover the South Korean cinema and drama diversity Contact HanCinema HanCinema on TwitterFaceBook HanCinema PageHanCinema on Twitter

[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Namesake"

2017/12/23 | Permalink

Ryeon-hee (played by Lee Sang-hee-IV) is an older middle-aged woman who works the miserable night shift at a convenience store. Ryeon-hee is very cold emotionally, and her behavior hints at an unhappy backstory. But then, we can tell right away that Ryeon-hee is a North Korean defector because her name is written according to North Korean spelling conventions- it would be rendered in South Korean spelling conventions as Yeon-hee.

Incidentally, Yeon-hee (played by Yoon Eun-ji) is a teenage runaway who takes to hanging around Ryeon-hee's workplace. While Yeon-hee is a very bright and cheerful young woman, she's also a bit of an idiot. In spite of being homeless and having the relevant survival skills necessary to pick up a free meal when necessary, Yeon-hee is shockingly na´ve. Ryeon-hee initially feels annoyance, then pity, then discomfort, and finally love for Yeon-hee.

Literally "The Namesake" is a story about the lonely life of a North Korean defector. It's accurate to this extent principally because the story eschews politics. Ryeon-hee's reasons for leaving North Korea were entirely pragmatic. Ryeon-hee already didn't have a life there anymore, but now that her reason for defecting is gone, Ryeon-hee doesn't have a life in South Korea either. The country is a very sad, disconnected, lonely place to Ryeon-hee, where people will pick fights with each other over the most petty and despicable reasons.

This is the context through which Ryeon-hee initially interprets Yeon-hee's existence. Yeon-hee is just one more pathetic, abandoned soul in South Korea, a country of apparently limitless wealth which is somehow incapable of providing for its most desperate citizens in need. Ryeon-hee watches on in disinterested helplessness at everything that happens, believing that this is simply the way life has to be for her as a citizen of this country.

Through sisterly romance Ryeon-hee starts to see her younger namesake as a person, and this inspires Ryeon-hee to try and make more of an effort. The reality of daily life is no easier, yet Ryeon-hee can genuinely go about it with a smile on her face, and an eye to show compassion to those who need it and to stand up for herself when necessary. It's easier for Ryeon-hee to visualize herself acting this way when all she has to think about is whether she would put up with someone being thatámean to Yeon-hee, or passively bullying Yeon-hee in such a way and realizing that no, this is not right.

"The Namesake" is very much a Christmas story, even if Christmas itself is never directly discussed. The movie takes a genuinely bleak situation and manages to mostly fix it with an attitude adjustment. Do Ryeon-hee and Yeon-hee have a stable life by the end? Well, not really, especially considering that Ryeon-hee had already been forced at one point to show Yeon-hee some serious tough love in order to make a very necessary point on the younger woman about boundaries. But the point is, they're trying. Whatever ambiguous result the future may hold, they have to at least try.

Review by William Schwartz

"The Namesake" is directed by Choi Jong-goo and Son Byung-jo, and features Lee Sang-hee-IV, Yoon Eun-ji, Kim Joo-hoo and Han Sung-sik.

á

Copy & paste guideline for this article
Always put a link back to the source and HanCinema permalink

Creative Commons License"[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Namesake""
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Attention You're reading the news with potential spoilers, make them spoiler free, dismiss


 

 

 Previous news

Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$0.99 monthly or US$7.99 yearly (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up.

Settings

Remove ads

Sign up

Sharing

Activate

Spoilers

Visible, hide

Movie of the week

Learn to read Korean in 90 minutes or less using visual associations