SDAFF 2022 Film Review: Gyeong-Ah’s Daughter

Sometimes, people grow best when they’re apart from those they love the most. In Gyeong-Ah’s Daughter, directed by Kim Jung-Eun, this is a hard lesson learned for Gyeong-Ah (Kim Jung-Young) and her daughter, Yeon-Su (Ha Yoon-Kyung), as the two face a horrifying and rough situation. In a nearly two-hour-long film, viewers follow the pair on a journey about moving forward and regaining lost confidence, with many tears shed along the way.

Growing up with an abusive father, Yeon-Su was extremely sheltered by her strict mother, as Gyeong-Ah projected her own worries onto her. Because of this, Yeon-Su became timid, hiding her personal life from her mother, claiming to be busy with work. Gyeong-Ah’s illusion of the innocent Yeon-Su was shattered, however, when a vengeful ex-boyfriend publicized a sex tape with Yeon-Su. During this time when her daughter needed her most, Gyeong-Ah shunned and shamed her for her actions instead, leading to a falling out and Yeon-Su was left to deal with the aftermath on her own. Gyeong-Ah’s Daughter tells the story of how Yeon-Su and Gyeong-Ah’s relationship slowly heals, and how cold the world is toward a young woman like Yeon-Su when it comes to sexual crimes.

The movie depicts the harsh realities of life and dating, and what it means to deal with the legalities of revenge porn. With an unnecessarily difficult process to find a resolution, Yeon-Su had to go through several different people to handle the situation, as law enforcement was only willing to do the bare minimum when she approached for help. Additionally, the unhelpful legal system also is taxing on Yeon-Su’s mental health. Gyeong-Ah’s Daughter dives into these often overlooked topics, focusing on how Yeon-Su had to deal with her newfound anxiety and paranoia, and re-learn how to assimilate into everyday life all alone. Similarly, Gyeong-Ah went through a similar experience, dealing with her emotions internally and learning to change her mindset when she soured her relationship with her daughter.

The film’s use of foreshadowing and symbolism led viewers to easily predict what would happen next, but Kim Jung-Young and Ha Yoon-Kyung expertly enchanted viewers with their acting. In moments of quietness, they spoke with their expressive eyes, conveying a range of emotions from sadness to contemplation. Comprised of many close-up shots, the film would zoom in on eyes welling up with tears, pulling on viewers’ heartstrings. 

While the film was engaging, it did drag on a little long. There is a lot to fit into the movie, but there were several moments toward the end that felt like good conclusions to the story. Aside from the long run-time, Gyeong-Ah’s Daughter embodies a hard-to-swallow pill about what it’s like to deal with such an unfortunate circumstance, and is certainly worth a watch.

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