Over the past 20 years, Korean cinema continually keeps transcending the Pacific and has delivered its latest gem with “House of Hummingbird.” Bora Kim’s “House of Hummingbird” is a bold, beautiful coming-of-age and transcendent teenage story.
Taking place in 1994, Eun-Hee (Ji-hu Park) is a struggling student in Seoul. Her unremarkable, unexceptional work ethic constantly infuriates and frustrates her family with her lack of consistency. Unable to seek comfort at home, Eun-Hee spends her spare time searching for love and friendship by making any connection she can. However, she finds friendship and answers in the most unlikely of places with her after school professor Yong-Ji (Sae-byeok Kim).
Since the early 2000s, an amazing wave of fantastic filmmakers like Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy” and “The Handmaiden”), Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Parasite”), Yeon Sang-ho (“Train to Busan”), Lee Chang-dong (“Burning”), and Jang Hoon (“A Taxi Driver”) have been leading the charge with incredible international movies from South Korea. Bora Kim certainly deserves joining that list. Kim’s incredibly, insightful story showcases the struggles of finding yourself and has emerged as a filmmaker worth discovering. We’re witnessing the beginning of a stellar storyteller taking shape.
Kim’s brilliantly bleak coming-of-age story beautifully confronts the annoying, aggravating aspects of transitioning from carefree childhood to troubling teenage life. Somewhat semi-autobiographical, Kim fantastically focuses on the fragility and deeply disturbing thoughts teenagers endure without the overtly obnoxious angst. Imagine a Korean Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade.” It’s not overdramatic or too contrived cinematically and beautifully bridges the gap for all ages to appreciate. It’s a marvelous muted, yet mesmerizing movie about a lonely existence and fending for yourself.
Ji-hu Park perfectly portrays angsty adolescence and the struggles of seclusion while simultaneously trying to find yourself. Through Eun-Hee’s eyes, we’re able to see everything from her perspective unobstructed by avoiding clichés and embracing the wonderment of naivety. It’s a charming, complex coming-of-age-story that lingers long after you finish watching. Kim’s touching teenage story shall certainly capture your heart and mind. Easily one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen all year long.
Like a hummingbird, it strongly and swiftly moves from place to place at times, but nonetheless captures your interest. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but the visuals and sound have left you speechless. Ji-hu Park’s strong, sensitive star-making role is absolutely spellbinding and actually addresses the awkwardness all teenagers face. For fans of “Eighth Grade” and “The Virgin Suicides,” this is right up your alley and it fantastically focuses on female adolescence.
4 out of 4 stars
Opening Nationwide in Virtual Cinemas starting Fri, June 26
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