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


    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR More Reviews Iranian Film Festival New York Review: 'Sheeple' Film Review: ‘Storm Boy’ Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. More Reviews Iranian Film Festival [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON in Glass. M.

    ‘Glass’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Glass.” Ads placed for the superhero thriller had an estimated media value of $9.89 million through Sunday for 1,183 national [...]

  • Danny Glover

    Danny Glover Joins 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' Sequel

    Danny Glover has joined the cast of Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sequel. His role is being kept under wraps, as is the storyline. Glover will star opposite Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, all of whom are set to return. More Reviews Iranian Film Festival New York Review: 'Sheeple' Film [...]

  • DJ Khaled Bad Boys

    DJ Khaled Joins 'Bad Boys' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    DJ Khaled has rounded out the cast of Sony’s upcoming “Bad Boys” sequel “Bad Boys for Life,” joining returning stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Khaled will also join series newcomers Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, and Paola Nuñez. Joe Pantoliano is on board to return as Captain Howard. More Reviews Iranian [...]

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON in Glass. M.

    M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass' to Break January's Slow Box Office Streak

    No plot twist here: M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “Glass” will dominate the domestic box office. As this weekend’s lone wide release, “Glass” looks to be the de facto choice for moviegoers during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Now the only question is: how big of an opening can “Glass” pull off? More Reviews Iranian [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content