몽골리안 프린세스 (Mongolian Princess)

몽골리안 프린세스 (Mongolian Princess)

A Quixote Production
Distribution: Film JoseE
Rating: 18 and Over
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 81 Min
Shooting Time: N/A
Release: 2015/Mar/19

WITH 정단우 (Jung Dan-Woo) as Dan-Woo; Elisabeth Garcia as Elisabeth; 박하나 (Park Ha-Na) as Ha-Na; 이은솔 (Lee Eun-Sol) as Eun-Sol; 김선영 (Kim Seon-Young) as Ji-No;

CREW Director 정단우 (Jung Dan-Woo) Executive Producer 정승용 (Jung Seung-Yong) | Screenplay 정단우 (Jung Dan-Woo) | Director of Photography 신상철 (Shin Sang-Cheol) Lighting 송민지 (Song Min-Ji) Editor 김다원 (Kim Da-Won) Music 홍지현 (Hong Ji-Hyeon) | Assistant Director 전민희 (Jeon Min-Hee)

BOX OFFICE
KOFIC Nationwide
TOTAL REVENUE: 3,254,000 Won
TOTAL ADMISSIONS: 424
BUDGET: N/A

Photo ⓒ Quixote, Film JoseE

royaltailor

SYNOPSIS

Danwoo is a man in his mid-thirties who's been bumming most of his life around the international acting circuit- a career path which is far less interesting than it sounds. He's never even had a serious girlfriend. That changes when Danwoo meets Elisabeth (played by Elisabeth Garcia), a French writer. [HanCinema]

IN SHORT

There's often a curious disconnect between what people assume to be reality, which often involves some degree of implicit awkwardness, and what actually happens to them – where for obvious reasons the awkwardness is much more spontaneously explicit. This is particularly challenging in the realm of filmmaking, because while you certainly need to move away from the facile fantasies of the big romance that populate trendy dramas, it's not that easy to get those awkward moments right; to represent them in a way that will feel natural, organically able to recreate the moment. I think more than anything it comes down to how people react to those moments, whether there's some kind of personality trait emerging from their reaction.

Jung Dan-Woo's career has seen him travel across continents and different media, from the Off Broadway plays that resulted from his American theater roots to indie films all over Asia and even the western world, not to mention occasional appearances on Korean films and even TV – I do vaguely recall seeing him in 대왕세종 (Sejong the Great), for instance. In his directing debut he chooses the slightly autobiographical route, painting the portrait of a man who finds himself at 34 and yet without any romantic experience to his name, after going through the socially grueling life of an International acting journeyman. The film juggles between his first relationship with French belle Elisabeth and a perhaps more mature, serious fling with Ha-Na.

It's pretty clear what Jung is going for, the idea that when relationships are more about what we ask from them than what we're willing to sacrifice, share and experience together, they usually don't go very far. In that sense the title is very telling: Dan-Woo experiences something like a dream, where his Mongolian Princess comes to rescue him from solitude – and I guess Ha-Na would be rescuing him from the throes of instability, finding himself in his mid thirties and yet being unable to find a direction. Conveying this kind of message is already quite the accomplished feat, considering how many directors fail at transposing their baggage of inner sensibilities on their all-important debuts – which become so personal that they end up only speaking to those who made them, in a sort of cinematic masturbation. Jung thankfully averts those pitfalls by always keeping a slightly detached outlook on his characters, which allows us to peek deeper into their state of mind.

But of course that's not as easy as it sounds. The awkwardness Jung so valiantly tries to recreate is not a simple formula of creating dissonance between an action and the impact it has on people; it's more about whatever goes in between, those transitional moments that define awkwardness. The young director tries to bridge action and reaction in an all-too-mechanical way, even didactic at times. One of his most misused weapons is dialogue: he assumes that with Elisabeth being French and Dan-Woo being Korean, their shared milieu of International English will inevitably create the perfect canvas for spontaneous awkwardness – it doesn't, and his emphasizing tacky platitudes so frequently only makes matters worse (although you might get a chuckle reading dirty messages to the tune of “I will be training my willy”).

It works a lot better when Jung lingers on Garcia's face, on the strange silence in between sentences, the physicality (or lack thereof) the two share, which at times speak a lot louder than the overly assertive and flowery dialogue. Things obviously get better when dealing with Dan-Woo and Ha-Na (because dialogue is not the deciding factor of that relationship's narrative arc), but it never seems good enough. It's not the realism and spontaneity Jung was probably going for, but only the assumption of reality. Manufactured awkwardness.

That is not to say it's a bad film – it definitely has its moments. Jung also fares a lot better as an actor, conveying Dan-Woo's lack of romantic experience in a charmingly – here's that word again – awkward way; Garcia has a certain magnetic aura which doesn't translate quite as well when she begins talking, something you could equally say for Park Ha-Na, but by indie film standards this is not a bad cast at all.
You'd just wish Jung was able to let loose and allow any atmosphere to build up, like in a dream. Of something a lot more realistic. And maybe awkward.

ACTING GRADES

66 정단우 (Jung Dan-Woo)
60 박하나 (Park Ha-Na)
56 Elisabeth Garcia
51 김선영 (Kim Seon-Young)
50 이은솔 (Lee Eun-Sol)

61

~ Last Update: 2015/04/20