The Low-Down: Veteran actor Kim Yoon-seok (Dark Figure Of Crime 암수살인, The Chaser 추격자) makes his directorial debut as a director-actor in Another Child 미성년, a melodrama about two dysfunctional families and how marital betrayal brings out the best (and worst) in individuals. Another Child is dark and harrowing, carrying a proudly morbid sense of humour that can throw some audience off. It’s definitely not a movie for everyone but hardly anyone will deny the creative excellence and stellar performances.
The Story: Highschool straight-As Joo-ri (Kim Hye-joon) and troubled teen Yoon-ah (Park Se-jin) become unexpected acquaintances when they find out that Joo-ri’s father (Kim Yoon-seok) and Yoon-ah’s mother (Park Se-jin) are having an affair and expecting a baby. Inevitably, Joo-ri’s mother Yeong-joo (Yeom Jeong-ah) finds out and confronts them. While the adults sort out between themselves, Joo-ri and Yoon-ah try to minimize further damage. Part coming-of-age, part family drama, Another Child uses witty, dark humour to soften the impact of harsh truths in dysfunctional families.
The Good: As with any captivating plot, Another Child molds each character and tells their story through showing and not telling, something many movies find it hard to execute. Halfway through, viewers will be more concerned about the characters than how the movie will wrap up, which is only possible if the writing and directing is on point. Usually the one under the spotlight, Kim Yoon-seok decides instead to take a backseat (and rightfully so) for the most part and lets his female leads run the show, allowing Another Child to stand out in the predominantly male-led cinema scene.
The Not-So-Good: There’s little to nitpick about Another Child, but some viewers might find the story a bit bland and straight. Developing more of the side characters such as Kim Hee-won’s stern teacher and Lee Hee-joon’s letdown husband of Mi-hee would have made the four main ladies even more whole. Other than those minor points, there’s nothing much to compain of Kim Yoon-seok’s feature debut.
Knock-Out Performances: It’s no surprise Yeom and Kim So-jin deliver impactful performances, but the two young actresses are nothing short of amazing. Apart from nailing their roles, the chemistry between Kim Hye-joon (the young queen in Netflix’s zombie period drama Kingdom) and Park is what sells their characters’ relatable teenage coming-of-age stories.
Watch Out For: The dark (and later, morbid) humour that can make you feel sorry for the characters while laughing at their actions the next moment.
Recommended? If you like dark humour infused in a melodrama, definitely. Writer-director-actor Kim Yoon-seok and crew skilfully weave a simple and typical story into a gripping narrative that shows and not tell for practically every character detail. The result is a masterpiece not for the mass market but an artistic treat for those who leans in.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars