Intriguing psychological drama Korean-style

This is my review of A Girl At My Door [DVD].

Young female police officer Young-nam is sent to spend a year as “chief” in a rundown coastal town set in a beautiful bay, but reliant for employment on the fishing industry, improbably organised by the brutish Yong-ha, who appears too much of a buffoon to organise anything, and also happens to be her neighbour. When Young-nam finds his young “daughter” (she may in fact be his ex-lover’s child) Dohee being bullied by other schoolchildren and subjected to extreme violence by her grandmother and father, the police officer steps in to offer the girl protection and eventually shelter. This is clearly unwise, leading one to ask about the official procedures in Korea for handling such cases.

The plot develops into a pyscho-sexual drama filled with ambiguities. Why exactly has Young-nam been assigned to this lawless backwater? Is Yong-ha Dohee’s biological father? Dohee is clearly a victim, but to what extent has she been damaged and corrupted? What are Young-nam’s true motives in seeking to help her to such an extent?

The plot sometimes seemed implausible, for instance, over aspects of police practice. Strongly influenced by western drama, the film has a distinct Korean slant of it own, which at times slips into over-acted physical violence and shouting, an extreme bleakness and moments of cruelty, all of which could be summarised as a lack of subtlety. Yet, despite this, the two leading female parts are well-acted, there are some moving scenes, moments of humour and I was left with intriguing questions to mull over.

⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars

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