Complicated Characters Try To Reconcile Their Past In ‘Return To Soul’

There’s a lot to watch out for in Davey Chou’s film back to seoul, but perhaps most notable is his star, Park Jimin, an artist with no prior acting experience. Park brings a memorable intensity to Cho’s fickle and vulnerable central character.

Cho’s film follows the journey of 25-year-old French-Korean adopted son Frédéric Benoit, who lands in South Korea and must decide whether to find his biological parents. At first she seems indifferent, becoming more interested in shochu shots, flirting with strangers and dancing demons away. Sexual fulfillment is difficult. Were they indifferent to her very existence?

Director Zhou diamond island, spent three years writing a script loosely based on a friend’s story. I didn’t. When she suddenly arranged a meeting, Zhou accompanied her and found her reunion to be a moving experience. Having grown up in France as the son of Cambodian parents who fled the Khmer Rouge regime, he is no stranger to the idea of ​​belonging to two worlds. He was 25 when he returned to Cambodia.

When it came time to cast Freddy, a friend suggested Park, who was born in South Korea and moved to France with his parents when he was eight. He feels perfect for the role and her performance proves his insight. She is a striking portrayal of the whimsical and sometimes violent Freddie.

“I’m not a professional actress,” Park said. Because I’m a person.His personality isn’t that different from mine.We have similarities.I think I found something like this character in myself and it helped me a lot to play that role.

“Jimin is a visual artist,” Chow said. “So, in getting to know her, she came to understand that she was used to delving into the very strong intensity of her emotions to create her art. ”

It was clear from the first test that she could bring his character to life.

“She was amazing,” said Chow, who makes films in Cambodia. “I work with a certain number of non-professional people in my productions, so I can tell from the first test, not if they’re going to be great actors, but if they have it. It’s the ability to forget yourself and the people around you, to be present and completely immersed in your emotions, which she quickly had. , she felt like she was finding a kind of joy in losing herself and drawing herself into an intense zone of extreme emotion.

Freddie switches quickly from one intense emotion to another, from joy to regret to sadness to anger to violence.

“This film benefited a lot from the generosity she showed by giving herself 100 percent,” Chow said. “Maybe it would have been different if she had been a trained actress or even had a desire to be an actress. I portrayed her in the most intense way possible.

“Freddie is a very complicated character,” said Park. “She has a lot of paradoxes.

The film is about Freddie trying on and disposing of his identity, part Korean, part French, abandoned as a baby, and loved. It covers an eight-year span trying to bite the butt. Parents who are very different from her. There wasn’t much rehearsal beforehand, but there was a lot of discussion that helped Park reconstruct her character.

“We didn’t see each other for a few months because of the coronavirus, so when we met again in the summer of 2021, she said, ‘Davey, I’m going to reread the script and I have a few questions.’ Can we discuss them? I thought it was part of the process. She would have a two-hour meeting to work them out and go to rehearsal, but it never happened. ”

Park questioned the details that define her character. how her character is portrayed, her relationships with other characters, especially male characters, and other Asian characters. questioned the relationship. Park and Chou spent more time discussing than rehearsing, which made them nervous at times, but they ultimately agree that the process created a richer and more complex character.

“It was about having to listen to her,” Chou said. “About having her explain her character from her point of view as a woman that I didn’t understand.”

Many of Park’s concerns related to the script’s male gaze. I tried to explain how difficult it is.

“He’s a man,” said Park. “We have a movie about a female character, but the female character is the heart of that movie. So the problem I saw in the script was the male gaze on women, especially Asian women.”

“I think that’s what I love about the process of working collectively and working with non-professionals,” Chou said. “They challenge you to see things from a different perspective. Jimin takes it to another level.”

The film features several non-professional actors, such as Guka Han as Tena and Emmeline Brifort as Lucy, as well as notable names such as French actor and director Louis de de Lanquezin. Experts are also present. Korean actress Kim Sun-young starred in the film as Freddie’s aunt, and Oh Kwang-rok played her biological father. plays an important role in Freddie’s father and her grandmother profusely express her grief over having to abandon her, but her aunt at least tries to figure out who she has become.

“Even if it’s a small role, she’s a very important character,” Chou said. Her aunt and Tena, the translators, are sort of go-betweens, they ask questions and try to build bridges of communication to make your broken history a little less broken. I am very grateful that she is in the film.”

Over 200,000 Korean children were adopted in about 15 years, most of them from other countries. While the topic has been covered in various forms in the South Korean media, Chow felt at odds between the media’s portrayal and the reality of the emotions her friends and other adopted children were facing. .

“One of the reasons I made this film was to offer a different perspective that I believe is more true to the complexity of the situation,” Chow said. “Meeting your biological parents is not the end of pain, nor is it an easy reconciliation between you and your past. It’s a long journey to.Maybe the pain will last forever.Sorrow may always be there.”

“The film presents the experience from a child’s perspective,” said Park. “It is interesting because when there is a TV show about adoption in South Korea, most of the TV shows that bring tears to your eyes are from the perspective of parents. Maybe they will never find the answers to the questions they are asking themselves.”

As we explore the complex legacy of adoption, back to seoul It also offers dynamic female characters that impress with their brash personalities and troubled evolutions.

The French-German-Belgian co-production premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival on May 22nd. Sony Pictures Classics plans to release the film in North America by the end of 2022.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanmacdonald/2022/10/16/a-complex-character-seeks-to-reconcile-the-past-in-return-to-seoul/ Complicated Characters Try To Reconcile Their Past In ‘Return To Soul’

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