Soak: Review

Soak: Review

This Korean short film centers on Yeonsoo Tak (Do Eun Lee) as she reconnects with her mother, Mina Park (Chaewon Kim). It is revealed early on that Mina has left Yeonsoo and her father, and has been away from home for a couple of weeks. Before the start of the film, Mina reached out to Yeonsoo in hopes of speaking with her without her father’s knowledge.

For her part, Yeonsoo seeks to determine if her mother plans to return home. To her surprise, Yeonsoo learns that her mother is in a relationship with another man named Mr. Kim (Sungyeon Kim). The rest of the film follows Yeonsoo as she deals with this revelation and its consequences.

Writer and director Hannah Bang is able to pack much nuance and subtext into a film with a short runtime. In addition, Bang is seemingly comfortable and confident leaving certain details of the film up for audience interpretation, such as; how long has Mina Park’s relationship with Mr. Kim been going on? What impact will this revelation have on Yeonsoo’s relationship with both her parents? Bang also deftly and subtly provides clues as to why Mina left Mr. Tak without spelling things out for the audience. This commitment to the careful and intentional reveal of information will greatly engage some viewers, while frustrating others.

The film’s strong writing is also anchored by great performances, particularly Do Eun Lee as Yeonsoo Tak. Lee perfectly embodies a young woman whose personal understanding of her world and perception of her parents is turned upside down. Lee also creates a lot of impact through facial expressions. There is one scene where Yeonsoo discovers some text messages of her mother’s that change her understanding of her mother and the situation surrounding her parents up to that point.

However, in this scene, her mother is sleeping so Yeonsoo must take all this in while remaining silent. During this scene, Lee clearly portrays confusion, anger and sadness with just a few quick expressions. Additionally, Chaewon Kim is also fantastic as Mina Park, playing a conflicted woman torn between her desire to be happy as an individual, but also still love and support her daughter.

The cinematography by Heyjin Jun greatly helps the audience connect with the character work done in the film, in particular helping the audience empathize with Yeonsoo’s perspective. For example, Mina Park reveals her relationship with Mr. Kim to Yeonsoo during a dinner. At the start of the scene, the camera is far away from the table. But, as Yeonsoo learns about the relationship and processes its implications, Jun slowly pushes the camera in.

This perfectly uses visual storytelling to demonstrate Yeonsoo’s stress and shock. In the previously mentioned scene of Yeonsoo reading the text messages, Jun keeps the camera close to Yeonsoo’s face so that the audience can fully see the impact reading these messages has on her. The tight and close framing also helps the audience understand how powerful and inescapable that moment is.

If you want to see a film that features strong performances, cinematography that helps convey emotion and character, and a script that contains a complex story and themes but still allows viewers to draw their own conclusions, consider viewing this film.    

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Trent loves watching and discussing films. Trent is a fan of character dramas and blockbusters. Some of his favorites include: The Breakfast Club, A Few Good Men and The Martian.


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