IN HER PLACE (Albert Shin). 115 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (February 13) at Carlton Cinema. Rating: NNNN
Where to watch: iTunes
Local writer/director Albert Shin picked up the Toronto Film Critics’ Jay Scott Prize for an emerging artist and nabbed a slot on TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten with good reason. His sophomore feature, In Her Place, is an expertly plotted drama that packs a paralyzing emotional gut punch. As far as accolades go, the film deserves more.
In rural South Korea, a well-to-do city woman (Yoon Da Kyung) moves in with an elderly farm woman (Kil Hae Yeon) and her pregnant teen (Ahn Ji Hye) with the intention of adopting the child. Their arrangement is not apparent when we first encounter the three nameless women, who cautiously circle one another. Shin trusts we’ll figure out what’s going on between them.
Other figures pass through, but In Her Place is essentially a moody, slow-burning three-hander that skilfully rotates our sympathies amongst the three women. While the set-up and consequences are simple, the compelling characters are complex and mysterious, acting on motivations we may not immediately grasp but can certainly feel.
Societal demands and class differences are just two of the factors that stir this dramatic pressure cooker.