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IN HER PLACE (review)

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Written by Albert Shin and Pearl Ball-Harding / Directed by Albert Shin / Starring Da-kyung Yoon, Ji-hye Ahn and Hae-yeon Kil.

With the right direction, a slow-burn drama can be wonderful, with the emphasis more on the burn then on the slow. Canadian director, Albert Shin’s latest film, IN HER PLACE, masters the slow, but it certainly takes its time bringing on that burn.

A well-off woman from Seoul (Da-kyung Yoon) comes to a small farm with the goal of adopting a young girl’s (Ji-hye Ahn) unborn child. The woman, the girl, and her mother (Hae-yeon Kil) form a comfortable routine as the young girl’s belly grows. When the unborn child’s father (Chang-hwan Kim) shows up, the routine is interrupted and the girl begins to doubt whether or not she wants to have her baby. The girl begins to act strangely, causing the woman to become increasingly concerned, while the mother seems to ignore her daughter’s self-harming behaviour.

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It takes far too long for Shin’s film to really get moving. It was not until an hour into the film that I actually found myself interested in what was happening. For the most part, the first hour is made up of unrelated conversations between the women that begin to feel tedious. It is not until the unborn child’s father becomes a problem that things actually start to head in a fascinating direction.

What makes the first hour bearable are the powerful performances from the three leads. Da-kyung Yoon in particular gives a nuanced performance, making her character one of the most fascinating in the film. The isolated farm is a perfect location for this tightly knit story and visually, the film looks great. That said, strong performances and a tense final act are barely enough to save this extremely slow film from feeling painfully so at times. Slow doesn’t have to mean boring, but in the case of IN HER PLACE, unfortunately it does.

2.5 sheep

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