Hope / Sowon ~ Review ~ Dramajjang
“The loneliest person is the kindest,
The saddest person smiles the brightest,
Because they don’t want others to feel the same pain.”
Hope/Sowon was a friend’s proposal and it’s one of the most heart-wrenching and heartfelt films I have ever watched. It feels as if you’re watching while holding your heart within the palm of your hand, often compressing it to the extent of giving you the impression that there’s no pulse left to keep it functioning. Despite its raw characteristics and the sense of reality it depicts, the film adorns its overall ambiance with hopeful vibes and, along with a promise, it was one of the reasons why I wanted it to be my first 2016 review.
Hope is based on a true story, the Nayoung Case that shook the foundations of Korean society due to the legal system’s inability to properly punish a beast in human form after ruining an 8-year-old girl’s and her family’s lives. Everything began on a seemingly ordinary rainy morning. Dong Hoon (Sol Kyung Gu) would head towards the factory to make a living for his family, Mi Hee (Uhm Ji Won) would be at the family’s convenience store and their daughter, So Won (Lee Re), would be on her way to school. Later on, Dong Hoon would receive a phone call informing him that So Won was being hospitalized in critical condition after having been sexually assaulted.
The film is renowned for its realistic approach and no matter how emotionally prepared you may appear before diving in its world, it will never be enough. Hope vividly depicts the traumatic events a fragile soul and her family had to go through, but it also lays emphasis on the tough road of the healing process with all the intermediate steps being carved on the characters’ souls and faces. Hope unveils itself through a raging torrent devouring the audience, second by second, as you find yourself in a course leading d(r)ownwards. However, the moment the eerie descent started surrendering to life’s ongoing redefinition the elevation process was inevitable and no matter how fathomless the pit may had appeared in the first place, the light would shine anew on the horizon.
Amid scars, fragmented lives and shards of emotion, the characters reflect their ongoing struggle to stand on their feet again, solely and as a family at the same time. The arch devastation was succeeded by a chasm keeping Dong Hoon apart from his daughter. Hope masterfully presents the stages of psychological support So Won and her parents required in order to start making brave steps ahead. Except for the heartrending and pleading quest for justice and the voracious and inhuman presence of the media, Hope also depicted the humane approach of the local community along with the different phases of desolation Dong Hoon and Mi Hee had to go though. The epitome of paternal love was shining through Kokomong above the surface and Dong Hoon underneath the costume.
The cinematography was exceptional with its very own natural approach. Lee Joon Ik kept honoring his lenses through the lighting factor’s gradual progress as the thicker and gloomier surrounding ambiance was transforming itself into a warmer and brighter caressing atmosphere. Lee Re was unerring while bringing to life So Won’s very soul and essence. In fact, it was a once in a lifetime interpretation and Hope would had been a different movie without her acting radiance. She visualized So Won’s world in a masterful and realistic way with each and every step in her character’s development being highly memorable and distinctive.
Sol Kyung Gu was exemplary as Dong Hoon, a paternal figure shattering to countless pieces while at the same time he was trying to remain intact for his family’s well-being. This ongoing collision was shining twice as brightly through his silent and heartfelt Kokomong attempts to infuse a dreamlike aesthetic into a world being filtered through a traumatized child’s eyes. Uhm Ji Won was reflecting Mi Hee’s maternal struggle and heartbreaking denial in her own heated and emotionally fortified way which was no other than a means to prevent the inevitable; breaking apart. Kim Hae Sook was exceptional as So Won’s psychiatrist, Jung Sook. Her ever-expanding tranquility and insightful approach were an inseparable part of the film. Other distinctive actors/actresses have to be Kim Sang Ho who’s pretty much everywhere, Ra Mi Ran and Kim Do Yeob whose characters played their own part as a family close to Dong Hoon, Mi Hee and So Won and i shouldn’t forget to mention Yang Jin Sung in the role of the kindhearted female police officer.
Watch Hope only if you can survive the impact. In that case, it intends to mend your wounds in its very own way; until the night sky gets filled with butterflies.