Identities 2017: Dohee-ya (A Girl At My Door)

South Korea 2014
Written by July Jung
Directed by July Jung
Watched on 12.06.2017

As a massive fan of “Sense8”, Doona Bae alone was reason enough for me to watch this movie (we have to stand by our cluster, after all). Nevertheless, I was also intrigued by the basic premise. And even though it ended up being not quite the highlight I was hoping for, it nevertheless was a very good and recommendable film.

What impressed me most about “A Girl At My Door” was the acting. Not just from Bae (at least since “Sense8”, I expect nothing less from her), but especially from the young girl, Sae-ron Kim, whose haunting performance gave me chills. She portrays what society usually designates as a “problem child”: A loner with the tendency to tantrums and violent outbursts. However, “A Girl At My Door” also shows us why she is the way she is – and (as it should be) solely puts the blame on her parents and grandmother. “A Girl At My Door” shows us what long-time physical and mental abuse can do to a child, and the result is often harrowing. However, with Young-Nam, it also deals with homosexuality, and how those who are found out to be gay are sometimes easy targets for harassment and bullying at the workplace. It’s already hard enough for Young-Nam, a young woman, to prevail against her male and more often than not chauvinistic colleagues, as well as the corruption that infected the town. When her relationship with another woman – which is the reason why she was transferred – comes to light, it only complicates things even further. Further down the road, “A Girl At My Door” also deals with the sickening prejudice that if you’re attracted to a certain gender and hang out with a kid of said gender, that obviously means that you’re not just gay, but also a pedophile. Her colleagues are far too quick to jump to the conclusion that something inappropriate must have been going on between Young-Nam and Do-Hee, just because she happens to be gay. Mostly, though, “A Girl At My Door” lives on the dynamic between those two – the discarded police woman and the beaten little girl, both victims of an oppressive, male-dominated society – who help each other to overcome their bad experiences. It’s a great, heartwarming relationships that, together with a couple of truly harrowing moments, offered most of the movies best scenes.

Granted, there were a couple of developments – like the elaborate plan which Do-Hee ultimately follows to free herself from her family – which didn’t fully convince me. And like so many Korean movies, it also felt a tad too long (it really seems that Koreans have an aversion against movies that are considerably shorter than two hours). You could trim 15-20 minutes easily without losing anything essential, and thus also streamline the movie a bit, which occasionally gets in danger of being all over the place. With a little trimming, the experience would have been more focused and thus intense. Other than that, though, “A Girl At My Door” is very well worth watching – and not just for fans of Doona Bae and/or “Sense8”.


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