Review: ‘In Between Days’

Revealing without being especially compelling, "In Between Days" offers a bleak, rigorously naturalistic portrait of an Asian-American teenager's physical and emotional dislocation. Minimalism is always a tough sell, and despite its perceptive insights into the difficulties of adolescence and assimilation and Jiseon Kim's subtly expressive performance as a girl who's blocked off her emotions, So Yong Kim's glacially paced first feature won't command much of an audience beyond the festival circuit.

Revealing without being especially compelling, “In Between Days” offers a bleak, rigorously naturalistic portrait of an Asian-American teenager’s physical and emotional dislocation. Minimalism is always a tough sell, and despite its perceptive insights into the difficulties of adolescence and assimilation and Jiseon Kim’s subtly expressive performance as a girl who’s blocked off her emotions, So Yong Kim’s glacially paced first feature won’t command much of an audience beyond the festival circuit.

Shot in Toronto in the dead of winter, pic follows sullen Korean teenager Aimie (Kim), who recently moved West with her mother (Bokja Kim), and her struggle — or rather, her refusal — to find her place in her bewildering new surroundings. Her only friend is a gangly Korean youth (Taegu Andy Kang), and as their relationship swings from casual sexual experimentation to irrational jealousy, Sarah Levy’s handheld camerawork captures the awkward emotional tango of insecure teens in a way that feels painfully authentic. Above all a meditation on loneliness, the narrative is frequently interrupted by static landscape shots accompanied by Aimie reading letters to her absent dad — stabs at poetry that feel less poetic, and more calculated, with every recurrence.

In Between Days

Production

Produced by Bradley Rust Gray. Co-producer, Jennifer Weiss. Directed by So Yong Kim. Screenplay, Kim, Bradley Rust Gray.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm-to-DV), Sarah Levy; editor, Kim; sound (Dolby Digital), Andrew Choi; associate producer, Stephanie Markowitz. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 23, 2006. Korean dialogue. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Jiseon Kim, Taegu Andy Kang, Bokja Kim, Gina Kim, Mike Park.
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