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Return to Seoul ★★★★★



Director: Davy Chou

Cast: Park Ji-Min, Guka Han, Yoann Zimmer

ReleaseBusan International Film Festival 2022

The Busan International Film Festival is a remarkable event to discover and showcase the incredible work of talented filmmakers worldwide. The 27th edition of the festival has recently started, and it’s already off to a terrific start! One of the tiles you should definitely keep on your radar is Return to Seoul, written and directed by Davy Chou. It’s only been the event’s first week, and this is already one of the best films from this year’s lineup. It is an emotional and profoundly investing character-driven premise that showcases authentic cinematic storytelling’s powerful and relevant nature.

We focus on our main protagonist Freddie (Park Ji-Min), who steps foot in South Korea for the first time. She is an adoptee of Korean descent, raised in a French family, who wants to find her biological parents and discover her cultural identity. As the movie goes on, she eventually starts to explore her past heritage and understand what it means to be Korean. Her personal journey will forever change her life while learning to accept her cultural background. This emotional and compelling character-driven drama addresses some significant themes along the way. The whole cast and crew should be proud of what they have accomplished.

As the lead, Park Ji-Min does a great job carrying the film on her shoulders. She brings a ton of depth and emotions to her performance while allowing the audience to connect with her on many levels. According to the director, she has never acted before, which is hard to believe considering she’s phenomenal in the movie! It’s impressive when you think about it. She’s able to make us care about her and understand the personal struggle that her character is going through. Some scenes are guaranteed to make you cry. It’s undeniably a weird feeling for adoptees to visit their country of birth while wanting to know more about their culture and language. Chou’s script brings a ton of development to Freddie throughout the narrative and explores the central concept of an identity crisis. She is constantly evolving, which wonderfully showcases the importance of character growth. When it’s over, you’ll be begging to see more of Park Ji-Min in future projects because she certainly has a bright future if she wishes to continue acting. Everyone does an excellent job, especially Oh Kwang-Rok and Guka Han. These two, in particular, are fantastic since they both contribute a lot of crucial elements to the overall story.

The way Chou portrays Korean culture is vibrant and beautiful from start to finish. There are some mesmerizing shots from cinematographer Thomas Favel, and you immediately get the sense that Seoul is a unique city that means a lot to Freddie when she comes to South Korea for the first time. In this case, Korea is more than just a country; it feels like a character on its own. The music is also worth talking about! Korean music from different eras is fully utilized for the film’s tone and atmosphere and to develop Freddie as a relatable human being.

Return to Seoul is a beautifully profound drama. It’s not just one of the standout titles at this year’s Busan International Film Festival but also one of the best movies of 2022. This is a very emotional and personal story of self-discovery and identity that deserves to be told. Davy Chou has genuinely made a culturally impactful piece of 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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