Yi-rang (voiced by Park Sin-hye) is a young high school student who's feeling a collapse in motivation after losing in a high school relay race. She isn't, in most respects, that different than any other teenage girl. Yi-rang is obsessed with the American movie "Love Story" which plays in her local theater, and all the other ideals of adolescent love that go along with it. At the same time, she realizes it's kind of a silly idea, as teenage girls often do when they're trying to define their personality in terms of uniqueness.
"Green Days: Dinosaur and I" is the story of Yi-rang throughout a year in her moderately rural school district as she tries to make sense of who she is. Ironically, this is done principally through her interactions with two other students. Confident city girl Soo-min (voiced by Oh Yeon-seo) is a source of adoration. She's exactly the kind of girl that all the boys swoon after, and she regards them with casual disdain. And yet she is just as much a teenager as Yi-rang is, a fact that becomes all too clear once she starts describing dreams that sound adult superficially, but are quite clearly the result of a teenager's logic.
Just as influential, though, is Cheol-soo (voiced by Song Chang-eui), who has the opposite character. He has little confidence and is very shy around people, especially girls. Likewise, his dreams sound silly on the surface level, and his efforts to obtain them make him look utterly ridiculous. But this outward appearance betrays a powerful, serious passion for his future. One that has little room for obsessing about what others think of him- even though, ironically enough, just a little of this turns out to be exactly what he needs.
The story of "Green Days: Dinosaur and I" isn't quite conventional. A more casual viewer may be confused by the end, seeing Yi-rang's journey coming to an abrupt end with little build-up. But "Green Days: Dinosaur and I" does an excellent job recognizing that adolesence is, while we're still going through it, all about those apparently meaningless moments that in the long term add up and help forge the people that we become in the future.
Additionally, even though the plot is quite mundane, the animation is excellent. It does a wonderful job emphasizing the urgency in both swift and slow moments. We sometimes even get images of areas that no one actually sees- yet these images tell us a great deal about what's going on in the current situation. We even gets a glimpse of the fantastic right at the end, in an incredible visual metaphor that would be incomprehensible if we weren't paying the utmost attention to Yi-Rang's character development.
"Green Days: Dinosaur and I" is a beautiful film about growing up without falling into the pitfalls of assuming that it's the decisive moment that builds our youth, rather than the softer ones surrounding it. This is the kind of movie that I would have wanted to see back when I was that age. In a world where it seems like everyone is expecting the most out of us, and the worst possible outcome is failure, the affirmation of "Green Days: Dinosaur and I" is a welcome reprieve.
Review by William Schwartz
Available on DVD from YESASIA
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Film Review] "Green Days: Dinosaur and I""
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