A bleak tale of an out-of-work miner’s family in a wintry South Korean province, clumsily titled “With a Girl of Black Soil” has some well-composed lensing going for it, but almost zilch on the dramatic side. Cute tyke lead Yu Yun-mi, as the daughter through whose eyes the pic unfolds, partly sustains interest, but this is pure fest fare that won’t travel far beyond specialty Euro outings. Film school direction by writer-director Jeon Soo-il (“The Bird Who Stops in the Air”) is a compendium of arty cliches that lacks originality.
Nine-year-old Yeong-lim (Yu) has a slightly older brother, Dong-gu (Park Hyeon-woo), who’s mentally handicapped, and a father, Hye-geon (Jo Yeong-jin), who’s lost his job in the mines and received no compensation. Add to that the family’s simple home is skedded for demolition and neighbors are moving away. While dad sits around drinking and looking depressed, Yeong-lim tries to keep the family going by stealing food and arranging for Dong-gu to attend a specialist school. But her solution for her father’s health problems has deadly consequences. Long silences and harshly beautiful landscapes are no substitute for the stultifying lack of drama.