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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Take Me Home - 2020"

2020/12/11

Eun-soo (played by Woo Mi-hwa) is an older schoolteacher. Ye-won (played by Lee Yeon) works at a casually branded clothing store. They're lesbians who first met in high school when Eun-soo was Ye-won's teacher. Exact details about when and how their relationship advanced to live-in status are kept deliberately vague. The dramatic impetus ends up centering entirely around a tragedy unrelated to their homosexuality, as "Take Me Home - 2020" turns into a story about grief, rage, and change.

In the grief department "Take Me Home - 2020" is unflinching. The tragedy is not sugar-coated, allowing for an easy transition to rage. Eun-soo is angry about what has happened and refuses to be comforted. In a brutal moment of nasty self-sacrifice, Eun-soo demands that Ye-won leave. Eun-soo questions their entire relationship and Ye-won never gets close to rousing her with an inspiring speech about true love or any such nonsense.

That realism is the main powerful quality "Take Me Home - 2020" has when it comes to drama. Neither Eun-soo nor Ye-won has much in the way of social graces. They're clumsy and awkward even with each other. Is this because they're lesbians? Well, as it turns out Eun-soo and Ye-won themselves aren't really sure on that point. So it's easy to see how Eun-soo's public timidity pre-tragedy transforms into outright doubt post-tragedy.

The main unifying element allowing for a possible happy ending is Eun-soo's niece Soo-min (played by Kim Bo-min-I) who is indisputedly in a much worse situation than either adult character. Yet even here, writer/director Han Jay offers no pretensions of a magical solution powered by love alone. While Soo-min is a sweet, harmless child, she is still a child. Soo-min is fragile and vulnerable. And in a situation like this, there's no guarantee that love alone is enough.

"Take Me Home - 2020" is a tremendously frustrating movie. The whole situation seems like it's going to play out romantically and that just never happens. "Take Me Home - 2020" can't even really work as a social justice flick either, since its deliberately vague about how much the lesbian stuff even matters. A late scene involving child grabbing sort of seems to be a comment on Korean intolerance of homosexuality, but the framing is deliberately ambiguous about who insisted on this tragic situation and why.

"Take Me Home - 2020" is also ambiguous on whether its characters are making good choices or bad choices. The movie ends without a clear long-term resolution regarding any of the three key character relationships. Are they family? Were they ever? Will they be a family in the future? It's not satisfying for us as viewers to have to go without a clear answer on these questions.

But then, try thinking about how much more unsatisfying it must be for Soo-min in that exact situation. Her fate is unknown and unknowable to the point that her own horrifying wish, created by the unfortunate wording of a well-meaning adult, provokes contrition even to the jaded, cynical Eun-soo. In that regard writer/director Han Jay certainly makes a better point by leaving us hanging on purpose.

Review by William Schwartz

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"Take Me Home - 2020" is directed by Han Jay, and features Woo Mi-hwa, Lee Yeon, Kim Bo-min-I, Park Ji-an, Kwak Jin. Release date in Korea: 2020/10/28.

 

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