You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Brand New Life

An admirably un-manipulative drama about the impermanence of relationships and the resilience of kids in the face of it.

With: Kim Sae-ron, Park Do-yeon, Ko A-Sung, Park Myung-shin, Oh Man-suk, Sol Kyung-gu, Moon Sung-keun. (Korean dialogue)

Set in a South Korean orphanage circa 1975 and featuring a concentrated, thoroughly convincing perf by preteen Kim Sae-ron, “A Brand New Life” is an admirably un-manipulative drama about the impermanence of relationships and the resilience of kids in the face of it. Drawing on her own childhood experience as an orphan living with Catholic nuns in Seoul, first-time writer-director Ounie Lecomte has made a film that’s emotionally and aesthetically involving in almost every shot. Only an imperfect DV-to-35mm transfer minimizes the impact of a picture that remains intimately and movingly focused on a bereft 9-year-old girl’s p.o.v.

Introduced riding on the handlebars of her father’s bicycle and wearing a wide smile, young Jin-hee (Kim) is soon dropped at a Catholic orphanage by Dad, who has no intention of coming back. As the stark reality of her situation begins to sink in, Jin-hee rebels by spending part of a night outside in the cold, decapitating Christmas gift dolls and threatening to escape. Given the choice to leave on her own, the girl maturely opts to stay and form attachments to other young residents such as 11-year-old Sook-hee (Park Do-yeon), whose relative success in the orphanage gives her better odds of being adopted — and thus taken away from depressed Jin-hee.

Warmly observed scenes of these two friends sneaking extra pieces of cake, tending to a sick bird and practicing simple English phrases are bittersweet for our sense that Sook-hee will soon succeed in finding a brand new life. Jin-hee, meanwhile, deliberately blows her interview with prospective parents; by this point, she’s finally getting adjusted to life in the orphanage.

Excruciatingly sad at points, Lecomte’s film is nonetheless possessed of a pleasingly light touch that suits her tale of a buoyant girl’s survival. It proceeds at an agreeably slow pace, adhering to emotional details at every turn.

Notwithstanding some DV images that look a touch artificial on the bigscreen, tech credits, including Jim Sert’s unobtrusive music, are impressive. Wide fest play seems both likely and well deserved for a film that’s accessible to viewers of most any age and background.


A Brand New Life

South Korea-France

Production: A Sovic Venture Capital (South Korea) presentation, in association with Finecut and DCG Plus, of a Now Films (South Korea)/Gloria Films (France) production. (International sales: Finecut, Seoul.) Produced by Lee Chang-dong, Laurent Lavole, Lee Joon-dong. Executive producer, Park Hyun-tae. Co-executive producer, Young-joo Suh. Directed, written by Ounie Lecomte.

Crew: Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Kim Hyun-seok; editor, Kim Hyung-joo; music, Jim Sert; production designer, Baek Kyeongin; costume designer, Kwon Yoojin; sound (Dolby SRD), Choi Jai-ho; supervising sound editors, Lee Sung-jin, Eric Lesachet; associate producers, Shin Hyeyeun, Kim Sunghwan.. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Special Screenings), May 19, 2009. Running time: 92 MIN.

With: With: Kim Sae-ron, Park Do-yeon, Ko A-Sung, Park Myung-shin, Oh Man-suk, Sol Kyung-gu, Moon Sung-keun. (Korean dialogue)

More Film

  • Zach Galifianakis Jerry Seinfeld Netflix

    Film News Roundup: Zach Galifianakis' 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie' Coming to Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is unveiled, “Friedkin Uncut” gets a fall release and Sony Classics buys “The Traitor” at Cannes. MOVIE RELEASES Netflix has set a Sept. 20 release date for Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” based on his 11-year-old talk show. Galifianakis made the announcement during [...]

  • Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for

    Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for North America

    Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the Romanian crime thriller “The Whistlers” following its premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the film stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi and George Pisterneanu. Magnolia is eyeing a theatrical [...]

  • Naomi Scott Talks Rebooting Princess Jasmine

    'Aladdin': Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad's New Character

    Call Naomi Scott the queen of the reboot – or at least, the princess. The 26-year-old actress is taking on the role of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s live-action remake of “Aladdin,” but it’s not her first time jumping into a role that’s already been well-established. Audiences may recognize Scott from 2017’s “Power Rangers” update, where [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • A QUIET PLACE Emily Blunt

    'A Quiet Place' Sequel Moves Ahead Two Months to March 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved its sequel to “A Quiet Place” ahead by two months from May 15 to March 20, 2020. John Krasinski is returning to direct the still-untitled movie with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe reprising their roles. Cillian Murphy is joining the cast. “A Quiet Place” grossed $340 million at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content