CAPSULE: =First time writer and director So Yong Kim gives us a naturalistic portrait of the relationship between two disaffected Korean teenagers living in Toronto. Aimie is sullen and antagonistic. In her efforts to hold on to her boyfriend and to punish her mother she is entering a self-destructive spiral. IN BETWEEN DAYS is shot in a documentary-like style, but some of the artistic decisions do not always work in the film's favor. Rating: high 0 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
Even at 82 minutes IN BETWEEN DAYS seems to drag. The film opens with about 40 seconds of a handheld camera shot of the back of someone's head as she walks through Toronto's snow. That someone turns out to be Aimie (played by Jiseon Kim), a 16-ish immigrant from Korea. Aimie is in a new country and not adapting well to living in Canada. Aimie's father has abandoned his small family and Aimie takes her frustration on her mother. She has become sullen and uncommunicative with her teacher, her mother, and even her boyfriend Tran (Taegu Andy Kang) whom right now she sees as the only good thing in her life.
Aimie is taking the same English class that Tran does, but Aimie's attitude is getting in the way, and her only pleasure seems to be her time spent with Tran. She is nearly as silent with him as she is with her mother. Tran is finding Aimie uninteresting and beginning to drift away from her to the world of sex and drugs. Aimie secretly quits her English class, gets a refund, and spends the proceeds on Tran in an effort to hang on to him. First time director So Yong Kim creates a very realistic portrait of his alienated subject, and her problems seem little different from those any teenager might face.
A film like this either works or fails depending on how well the characters are drawn. So Yong Kim gives the film an almost documentary feel showing us Aimie's long withdrawn silences and her efforts to talk without really communicating, but the film is definitely taxing. And at least three sequences of trudges through the snow looking at the back of Aimie's head do not make the film any less taxing. Sarah Levy's camera focuses on close ups on hands and faces but the passive expressions are equally uninformative.
So Yong Kim came from Korea at age 12 and grew up in Los Angeles in a culture of suppressed sexual interest and tension and that experience inspired and informed her script. So Yong Kim's experiences of coming of age and at the same time trying to understand an alien society were the source for the conflicts that define Aimie. Jiseon Kim (no relation to the director) expresses her impassive character well enough to wall us out, but not expressively enough to pull us in.
This is a film that is selective in its appeal. Its minimalist approach and its long silences will limit its appeal. IN BETWEEN DAYS is a sincere effort, but one almost feels one is watching someone's video-camera diary. I rate it a high 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0492463/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2007 Mark R. Leeper