Dohee-ya [A Girl at My Door] (2014)

Director: July Jung
Writer: July Jung
Cast: Doona BaeSae-ron KimSae-byeok SongHie-jin JangMin-jae KimSeong-kun Mun
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 12.6.2017

Young-Nam (Doona Bae) is a police officer who was just transferred to a small seaside town. It was a punitive measure, but what her misconduct actually entailed is unclear to her new colleagues. And since Young-Nam is stand-offish, they’re not bound to find out anytime soon. One night Young-Nam finds Do-Hee (Sae-ron Kim) at her door, a young girl from the village who seems taken with Young-Nam. Do-Hee’s family is difficult and Young-Nam gives her more and more space in her own life.

Dohee-ya may have bitten off a little more than it can chew, making the film feel a little crammed and too long. That being said, it still has many strengths and is definitely worth seeing.

The movie tries to tackle a lot of issues, some of which are very rarely included in films and even more rarely in Asian films (or at least the Asian films that reach Europe), from alcoholism to (sexual) abuse to homomisia, and more. Of course, life, as they say, comes at you fast, and usually people have to struggle with more than one issue at a time, but for the sake of the film, it just felt a little too much like precarious juggling and too little like a well-balanced story.

Maybe that impression also stems from the fact that the film generally feels a little too long, especially in the second third. I would have appreciated a little more cutting down here and there, both of minutes and of themes included.

The film does get an important part of the film very right though – and one that’s very hard to do: the ending. Here it perfectly fits the story and it takes away all ambivalence, which is extremely important in this case, I thought. It would not have done at all to leave things unclear here.

So, despite some gripes I had with the film, it is a strong movie (particularly for a debut feature) with a great cast that tells an interesting story. It definitely falls more on the plus side than the minus side.

Summarizing: Worth to give it a try.

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