Tuesday, 14 October 2014


She arrives as the sole moving figure in a sedated landscape, a disruptive force, like paint stripper eroding layer upon layer of sweetness and simplicity to uncover the caustic rot that has been concealed beneath. July Jung's A Girl at My Door is a film about what we reveal, and when, and how, and our choices therein. Her sensitivity is easily consumed as an accurate representation of that aforementioned simplicity, but Jung's balance of the delicate and the destructive is, in retrospect, enormously well-maintained. She disguises it behind an apparently average human drama, which itself is finely scripted and acted, and allows it to fuel and, in turn, feed off these theatrics - the film is a much more intricately-constructed piece of work than it ostensibly appears to be. Jung emphasises the fragility of her characters and their situations, these slim, slight Korean women, riding rickety bikes through rustling fields of grass along skinny dirt tracks; it keeps the film appropriately on edge, and her keen insight into her characters' thoughts provides a legitimate purpose for that edge - there's always something at risk, and, in attempting to instil order in a largely orderless community, the smallest nudge of the domino sends the whole stack tumbling down. Yet one remains unprepared for quite how hard the film's final stretch will hit, its clinical cold-heartedness serving as the ultimate disruption, potentially even threatening to restore those layers of careless, orderless paint over a rot that has not yet been purged. Viewed from the perspective of its later developments, there's little to criticise about A Girl at My Door (though rarely a lot to rave about either), still it's difficult to excuse the loss of energy in this closing section, which rather runs over the same points to exhaustion. Yet, when Jung keeps moving, as her main character, traversing through darkness and light with such nimble balance, A Girl at My Door is vital and involving.