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A DISTANT PLACE (‘정말 먼 곳’)

Kun-Young Park | South Korea | 2020 | 117 min | KOREAN S.-T.EN.

A Distant Place en – Hwacheon, in South Korea’s Gangwon province, is a land of sheep. Docile, but disobedient. A strain of stubbornness that comes to define its human inhabitants after a farmhand’s “sulky” sister and “handsome” partner arrive from Seoul and an ensuing custody battle disturbs the careful balance he has achieved with his young niece.

Long-time lovers Jin-Woo (Kang Gil-Woo) and Hyun-Min (Hong Kyung) look for peace when they are reunited in Hwacheon, where Jin-Woo spends his days tending to farm duties and his niece, Seol (Kim Si-Ha), and Hyun-Min finds work teaching the art of poetry to locals, guiding them to unburden their feelings. Along with the ranchers with whom they share a home, they forge an unconventional family. That is, until Eun-Young (Lee Sang-Hee), Seol’s mother, somehow discovers their whereabouts and comes to reclaim her once abandoned daughter. Kun-Young Park’s film matches its bucolic setting and deceptively gentle storyline: restrained and poetic, its absence of soundtrack and lingering long takes hinting at the truths kept repressed deep in the heart of the farmers, villagers, and visitors of the remote South Korean countryside, its autumnal colours aflame. Insides bursting to the surface. (A Distant Place en)