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Next Sohee ★★★★★



Director: July Jung

Cast: Doona Bae, Kim Si-eun

ReleaseBusan International Film Festival 2022

At this point, people should know that Bae Doona is a highly gifted actress who always brings phenomenal performances in all her work. There’s just something mesmerising every time she’s on screen, especially in Next Sohee, which has recently been screened at the Busan International Film Festival. It first premiered at the Cannes Film Festival with a 7-minute standing ovation, and it won the Cheval Noir Award for Best Director at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Written and directed by July Jung, she has remarkable skills as a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller. It’s not an easy watch, but her screenplay carries so much depth and emotions that this is a film you should keep your eyes out for.

High schooler Sohee (Kim Si-Eun) works at a call centre, where she eventually realises that it’s a horrible job to start with. It’s an absolute nightmare where she gets yelled at and heavily mistreated with verbal abuse. She can’t take it anymore and tragically takes her own life. Detective Oh Yoo-Jin (Bae Doona) takes on the case by investigating her death, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to bring truth and justice to her unfortunate situation. It’s undeniably a difficult premise to adapt on the big screen, but Jung makes sure to treat it with respect in her screenplay.

Jung’s direction is worth praising, especially how she portrays the two lead characters in her story. Both Kim and Bae are superb, and you completely understand where they’re coming from. This is Kim’s first lead role in a feature, so we’re certainly looking forward to seeing her acting career evolve after Next Sohee. Bae continues to prove why she’s one of the best and most influential currently working in the industry. She can immediately grab your attention with her outstanding performance because you get her ambition of wanting to accomplish this case. Every time she speaks, you are locked in.

Jung does a fantastic job of making the film remarkably suspenseful during the detective’s investigation. You’re mesmerised by how good the writing is when she’s busy interrogating people and asking them questions. The dialogue serves its purpose of not just advancing the plot but also giving layers to our characters. Each scene is important to the overall narrative, and especially its methodical pacing. While the movie may be a slow burn, that doesn’t mean it’s boring. It’s pretty engaging from start to finish. You’re deeply invested from start to finish with relevant ant and vital subject matter regarding work culture in Korea. Korean cinema has consistently been recognised for conveying important themes in its storytelling, which is why the director has justified why this story needs to be told.

Next Sohee is extraordinary in every sense of filmmaking. It is powerful, profound and unique. Jung’s approach to making this feature is marvellous, which makes her stand out as an incredible talent that Korean movie fans should look out for in the future. There’s a whole lot to uncover in this exceptional piece of Korean cinema.

Steven Lee has always been passionate about movies. He also writes for Short Ends, Montreal Rampage, That Moment In and Borrowing Tape.

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