I’ve been catching some glimpses of Asian cinema despite my busy schedule (an addict will always be an addict), and saw this wonderful movie on Netflix. Check it out below if it’s been in your queue, but not sure if it’s worth a look.
Released in: 2014
Directed by: Hwang Dong-Hyuk
Actor Actress as Character
Shim Eun-Kyung as Oh Doo-Ri / Oh Mal-Soon
Na Moon-Hee as Oh Mal-Soon
Jin Young as Ji-Ha
Park In-Hwan as Mr. Park
Sung Dong-Il as Hyun-Chul
As I’ve grown older, I started to realize more and more the sacrifices my parents have endured. Not only did they not know a word of English upon arrival in America, they had no friends or family here and had to start from scratch. Somehow, they were able to put food on the table by taking any jobs they can get. My dad and older sister worked in a factory making name tags and my mom stayed at home since we were all very young at the time. In Vietnam, before the war broke out, my dad was studying to be a lawyer and my mom was a teacher with dreams of becoming a cook. That all changed when the uncontrollable circumstances of their lives cause them to lose their dreams. Miss Granny is a movie about them–my parents. The dreams they lost and all the possibilities that could’ve came alongside them.
Oh Mal-Soon is 74 years old with a son who’s a professor at a fancy university. She raised him alone when her husband died during the war. She’s proud her son made something of himself, but that feeling isn’t mutual unfortunately. While she did everything she could in order for her son to have the same chances as anybody else, her wishes became little more than a whisper and soon not a trace of it was left. For the most morbid of reasons, she decided to get a new picture taken before she gets any older and the picture for her funeral will be of an even older woman. Little did she know taking this photo will be her second chance to do what she wants to do and not what she had to do.
Since I’ve been away from the scene for awhile, I had no idea who any of these new faces are. However, Shim Eun-Kyung stole the show for her part as the younger Oh Mal-Soon. Yes, after taking that photo, Oh Mal-Soon was transformed into her younger self. Her mind was still the same, but her body was that of 20 years old. She’s at first bewildered, shocked (but no heart attack because her heart can actually take this kind of shock now), and then…amazed. Yes, yes, there’s a little Freaky Friday going on here, but it’s such a fresh take on it that’ll I’ll approve. When she bumped into her own family and no one recognizes her, she decided to take this chance to do things her way. Wear whatever she wants, and do whatever she wants.
By chance, singing (her dream before life’s misfortunes took it away) was the catalyst that brought about her new life. Starting out small, she sang a little tune at a senior meeting where she usually attends. I really love the director’s approach to this. In Freaky Friday, once switched the mom would try to act “cool” to fit into her new life. Here, Oh Mal-Soon, while in a younger body, still do everything the same way as if she’s still a 74 years old woman. The difference is, the seniors around her doesn’t think she’s acting weird but praise her for sticking to tradition. Shim Eun-Kyung could’ve ruined the movie if she tries to be too corny about everything, but her acting was incredibly natural as an old woman in a girl’s body. It’s funny and awesome at the same time. The first song she sang in the movie is a song clearly not the usual K-Pop, but appears to be a tune from the era of the Korean War or of the past.
While this movie is a comedy, I really enjoyed it because of its connection to my parents’ story and that of many immigrants’ family. There’s also a subtle message to the viewers, of any age, to see the crazy wonders that can come about if you just be yourself. Oh Mal-Soon could’ve easily started acting like every other teenage Korean girl, but she instead did things her way. She got a haircut to look like Audrey Hepburn instead of someone in Girl’s Generation (K-Pop). Even the way she dressed was, to me, incredibly refreshing blending the traditional look of the past but with the vibrancy of the modern age. Kudos to the movie’s stylist. It’s a great movie for family or friends. You’ll get a good laugh here and there, but the story is what’ll get you. You might have to swallow some tears even if you’re in public watching this. Aside from a funny and feel-good movie, you’ll also get to hear some great songs. I love all the songs in this movie so much that I got the OST on iTunes.
Not sure how long this movie will be on Netflix or Hulu, but that’s where I saw it if you want to catch it and watch on the big screen.
Overall Rating: A-